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The safe insertion of peripheral intravenous catheters: a mixed methods descriptive study of the availability of the equipment needed

Bryony Dean Franklin135*, Vashist Deelchand1, Matthew Cooke2, Alison Holmes134 and Charles Vincent1

Author Affiliations

1 Imperial Centre for Patient Safety and Service Quality, Imperial College, London, UK

2 Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK

3 Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK

4 Centre for Infection Prevention and Management, Imperial College, London, UK

5 UCL School of Pharmacy, London, UK

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Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control 2012, 1:15  doi:10.1186/2047-2994-1-15

Published: 20 April 2012



Intravenous cannulation is undertaken in a high proportion of hospitalised patients. Much international attention has been given to the use of care bundles to reduce the incidence of infection in these patients. However, less attention has been given to the systems required to ensure availability of the equipment needed to support these care bundles. Our objectives were to assess how reliably the equipment recommended for a peripheral intravenous care bundle was available for use, and to explore factors which contributed to its non-availability.


We studied 350 peripheral cannula insertions in three NHS hospital organisations across the UK. Staff inserting cannulae were asked to report details of all equipment problems. Key staff were then interviewed to identify the causes of problems with equipment availability, using semi-structured qualitative interviews and a standard coding frame.


47 equipment problems were recorded during 46 of 350 cannulations, corresponding to a reliability of 87%, or 94% if problems with sharps disposal were excluded. Overall reliability was similar in all three organisations, but the types of problem varied. Interviews revealed a variety of causes including issues associated with purchasing policies, storage facilities, and lack of teamwork and communication in relation to reordering. The many human factors related to the supply chain were highlighted. Often staff had adopted work-arounds to deal with these problems.


Overall, 87% of cannulations had the correct and functional equipment available. Different problems were identified in different organisations, suggesting that each had resolved some issues. Supply chain management principles may be useful to support best practice in care bundle delivery.

Cannulation; Patient safety; Equipment; Care bundles; Hospital acquired bacteraemia; Systems reliability