Potential impact of peripheral intravenous catheter placement on resource use in the pediatric emergency department

Pediatr Emerg Care. 2010 Jan;26(1):26-9. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0b013e3181cd149a.


Objectives: In an era of pediatric emergency department (PED) overcrowding and diminishing health care resources, routine peripheral intravenous (PIV) catheter placement in the pediatric population requires evaluation because it might directly impact PED efficiency. This study aims to determine the utility of routine PIV catheter placement during phlebotomy.

Methods: Electronic medical and billing records from 2 tertiary care PEDs during 1 year in patients 21 years or younger were analyzed. Data on the presence of PIV catheter placement in the PED, subsequent PIV catheter usage, chief complaint, and demographics were tabulated and analyzed.

Results: During the study period, there were 131,003 PED visits analyzed and 26,776 PIV catheters placed. Of those placed, 12,475 (47%) were not used. The median age of the patients who received a PIV catheter that was not subsequently used was 36 months. The frequency of unused PIV catheters correlates with lower initial triage acuity. The highest rate of unused PIV catheter was in those 1 to 6 months old (63%), followed by that in groups younger than 1 month (57%), older than 6 to 24 months (52%), and older than 24 months (41%).

Conclusions: Nearly half of the PIV catheters placed in the PED were unused. Unused PIV catheters represent an inefficient use of limited resources that could be redistributed to improve ED efficiency, flow, and resource use.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Catheterization, Peripheral / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hospitals, Pediatric / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Phlebotomy / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult