Resource utilization and cost of inserting peripheral intravenous catheters in hospitalized children

Hosp Pediatr. 2013 Jul;3(3):185-91. doi: 10.1542/hpeds.2012-0089.


Objective: The goal of this study was to measure the costs and difficulty in placing peripheral intravenous (IV) catheters in hospitalized children; measures of resource utilization. We measured the costs and difficulty in placing peripheral intravenous (IV) catheters in hospitalized children. This common procedure has implications for the utilization of hospital resources.

Methods: This was a prospective, large-scale observational study in 2 southeastern US pediatric teaching hospitals evaluating 592 children needing peripheral IV catheters in the inpatient setting. The median age was 2.25 years with an age range of 2 days to 18 years. Costs were estimated by using directly measured staff time and national salary data. Analyses included costs according to patient characteristics (age, weight, dehydration, and difficulty of stick attempts), and nurse characteristics (experience in years and anticipated difficulty).

Results: The median cost of the pediatric IV insertions was $41, and 60% of the placements were obtained with the first nurse. Seventy-two percent of the children had a successful IV insertion in 1 to 2 attempts and accounted for 53% of total costs. However, the 28% of children who required > or = 3 IV attempts had a cost range of $69 to more than $125, and they consumed 43% of the total IV costs. This subset was often < 2 years old or dehydrated (P = .0002).

Conclusions: The insertion of peripheral IV catheters in an inpatient setting can be time intensive and requires significant skill. Our study suggests that resource utilization may improve when nurses and personnel proficient in starting peripheral IV catheters are used when the initial nurse has failed to obtain IV access. This systems improvement should result in shortened time to administration of parenteral therapies, positively improving outcomes and lessening length of stay, as well as improving patient/family satisfaction due to reduced perceptions of pain.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Catheterization, Peripheral / economics*
  • Catheterization, Peripheral / nursing
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Health Resources / economics*
  • Hospitals, Pediatric / economics*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • United States