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National guidelines state that peripheral venous catheters (PVC) should remain in situ no longer than 72-96hrs. Cannulas remaining in situ longer than this are thought to be associated with an increased risk of phlebitis. Recent studies have disproved this and have suggested a change in policy with the removal of cannulas on clinical grounds. This is a review of local policy in Sheffield teaching hospitals.
To assess the adherence to current PVC guidelines in secondary care along with the associated complication rate of phlebitis and to correlate the findings.
A seven-day audit carried out in which patients in a 27-bed ward were assessed with regard to their PVCs. Insertion/removal dates of PVCs were recorded and the cannulation sites were visibly checked and scored for signs of phlebitis.
Documentation was present for 12% of PVC insertions and 0% of PVC removals. Only 23% of PVCs were removed according to local guidelines of which 11% had increased phlebitis scores, whilst 15% of those removed in line with protocol had increased phlebitis scores.
There was no strict adherence to the current National guidelines with regard to the insertion/removal of PVCs. In addition, the following of National PVC guidelines did not result in a reduced risk of phlebitis. This audit did have, however, a small sample size and lacked longitudinal data. Further studies following the alteration of protocol may be beneficial.