Peripheral IV catheter management in childbirth
Background: Childbirth is a normal, physiological process, yet intervention is common. Arguably the most common intervention is the insertion of a peripheral intravenous catheter; however, there are few studies guiding best practice. This study aimed to describe current intravenous catheter insertion practice, explore clinician decision-making during insertion and perceptions of women.
Methods: This prospective, observational cohort study recruited 101 women and clinicians from two Australian regional hospitals. Data collection incorporated non-participant observation, brief interview and chart review. Variables measured included pain score, insertion attempts, catheter gauge and dwell time.
Results: Childbearing women were, on average, aged 31 with body mass index (BMI) above 28. Women reported a mean pain score of 3.3/10 at 24 h for catheter insertion and 12% reported bruising. An 18-gauge catheter was considered more painful than a 16-gauge, and multiple attempts did not increase perceived average pain score. Association between failed first attempts and higher BMI was not established. Participant clinicians were predominantly midwives, who selected and placed 18-gauge catheters mostly in hand or wrist (66%). Decision-making about site, catheter gauge, dressing and attempts varied. Thirty-four per cent attempted two to three times, despite regular practise. Confidence to reliably insert determined catheter gauge and almost half clinician participants cited hospital policy and preferred non-dominant arm as key reasons for the location of PIVC.
Conclusions: Regular use of a large-gauge catheter is counter intuitive when placed in the small veins of the hand with extension tubing. More research is needed to promote best practice around gauge selection, site and women’s experience.
Kearney L, Craswell A, Massey D, Marsh N, Nugent R, Alexander C, Smitheram C, McLoughlin A, Ullman A. Peripheral intravenous catheter management in childbirth (PICMIC): A multi-centre, prospective cohort study. J Adv Nurs. 2021 Jun 12. doi: 10.1111/jan.14933. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34118163.