Background: Although certification by an accredited agency is often a practice prerequisite in health care, it is not required of vascular access specialists who insert peripherally inserted central catheters (PICCs). Whether certification is associated with differences in practice among inserters is unknown.
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to gather information regarding whether certified and noncertified PICC inserters differ with respect to their practices and views about PICC use.
Methods: We conducted a national survey of vascular access specialists, identifying certified PICC inserters as those who had received board certification from the Association for Vascular Access, the Infusion Nurses Society, or both. The 76-item survey asked about PICC policies and procedures at respondents’ facilities, use of insertion technologies, device management, management of complications, perceptions about PICC use, and relationships with other health care providers. Additional data about respondents, including years in practice and primary practice settings, were also gathered. Bivariable comparisons were made using χ2 tests; two-sided α with P ≤ 0.05 was considered statistically significant.
Results: Of the 1,450 respondents in the final sample, 1,007 (69%) said they were certified inserters and 443 (31%) said they were not. Significantly higher percentages of certified than noncertified inserters reported having practiced for five or more years (78% versus 54%) and having placed 1,000 or more PICCs (58% versus 32%). Significantly more certified than noncertified inserters also reported being the vascular access lead for their facility (56% versus 44%). Reported practice patterns for insertion, care, and management of PICCs varied based on certification status. Some evidence-based practices (such as the use of ultrasound to measure catheter-to-vein ratios) were more often reported by certified inserters, while others (such as the use of maximal sterile barriers during PICC insertion) were not. Asked about their perceptions of PICC use at their institution, certified inserters reported higher percentages of inappropriate insertion and removal than noncertified inserters.
Conclusion: Certified PICC inserters appear to be a distinct group of vascular access specialists. A better understanding of how and why practices differ between certified and noncertified inserters is necessary to ensuring safer, high-quality patient care.