Background: Most patients in Norwegian hospitals are routinely given one or more peripheral venous catheters. A peripheral venous catheter is considered to be a benign device but may entail a risk of local infection with resulting bloodstream infection and sepsis. Good practice in the insertion and care of these catheters is essential to prevent infection.
Material and method: This study presents Norwegian data from the 'One Million Global Catheters Study', which evaluated practice in relation to peripheral venous catheters in 419 hospitals in 51 countries. Two Norwegian hospitals collected data from medical and surgical wards on a single day in November 2014 (Levanger Hospital) and a single day in February 2015 (St Olavs Hospital). Professional development nursing specialists recorded observations of peripheral venous catheters such as insertion site, dressing, documentation and indication.
Results: We evaluated 136 peripheral venous catheters in a total of 121 patients. We found 44 (32.4 %) catheters associated with various clinical problems such as pain, redness or swelling around the insertion site, catheter dislocation, or blood in the infusion set. Altogether 50 peripheral venous catheters (36.8 %) were not in use for either medications or fluid on the day in question. In 93 of 131 cases (71.0 %), there was no documentation of venous catheter assessment in the previous 24 hours.
Interpretation: Care and monitoring of venous catheters could be significantly improved. There was considerable incidence of unused peripheral venous catheters, and lack of documentation was widespread.