Review article: Idle 'just-in-case' peripheral intravenous cannulas in the emergency department: Is something wrong?
Peripheral intravenous cannula (PIVC) placement is often an essential emergency medicine precursor to lifesaving treatment, but it is not harmless. Patients frequently and without proper consideration of the consequences receive a 'just-in-case' PIVCs as part of their assessment and admission, which, in a not insignificant number of patients, remains unused or idle in situ. We reviewed the literature and performed a thematic analysis of data collated from 21 articles published in the past 24 years regarding redundant PIVCs. The following five common themes emerged: heterogeneous prevalence data on post-insertion PIVC usage, preventable intravascular complications, financial burden, loss of time and a culture of over-investigating. The prevalence of PIVC insertions and idle PIVCs was heterogeneous among these publications; the median ED idle PIVC prevalence value was 32.4%. This practice is associated with compromised patient safety, squandered finances and misdirected practitioner time. Cultures of convenience and shortfalls in PIVC-related education facilitate the prevalence of idle PIVCs.