Emergency physicians (EPs) have become facile with ultrasound-guided intravenous line (USIV) placement in patients for whom access is difficult to achieve, though the procedure can distract the EP from other patient care activities. OBJECTIVES:
We hypothesize that adequately trained Emergency Nurses (ENs) can effectively perform single-operator USIV placement with less physician intervention than is required with blind techniques. METHODS:
This was a prospective multicenter pilot study. Interested ENs received a 2-h tutorial from an experienced EP. Patients were eligible for inclusion if they had either two failed blind peripheral intravenous (i.v.) attempts, or if they reported or had a known history of difficult i.v. placement. Consenting patients were assigned to have either EN USIV placement or standard of care (SOC). RESULTS:
Fifty patients were enrolled, of which 29 were assigned to USIV and 21 to SOC. There were no significant differences in age, race, gender, or reason for inclusion. Physicians were called to assist in 11/21 (52.4%) of SOC cases and 7/29 (24.1%) of USIV cases (p = 0.04). Mean time to i.v. placement (USIV 27.6 vs. SOC 26.4 minutes, p = 0.88) and the number of skin punctures (USIV 2.0 vs. SOC 2.1, p = 0.70) were not significantly different. Patient satisfaction was higher in the USIV group, though the difference did not reach statistical significance (USIV 86.2% vs. SOC 63.2%, p = 0.06). Patient perception of pain on a 10-point scale was also similar (USIV 4.9 vs. SOC 5.5, p = 0.50). CONCLUSIONS:
ENs performing single-operator USIV placement in patients with difficult-to-establish i.v. access reduces the need for EP intervention.