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Unraveling the Dangers: A Closer Look at Peripheral Intravenous Catheter Infections and Failures

Posted on 2 April 2024


Peripheral intravenous catheters (PIVCs) play a crucial role in modern healthcare, providing a gateway for administering medications and fluids. However, a recent systematic review and meta-analysis sheds light on the often-overlooked complications associated with PIVCs. In this blog post, we will explore the key findings of their study and delve into the implications for healthcare practitioners and patients alike.

Understanding the Scope of the Issue:

The researchers conducted a thorough review, scouring databases for observational studies and randomized controlled trials published in English from the year 2000. A staggering 34,725 studies were initially retrieved, ultimately leading to the inclusion of 41 observational studies and 28 randomized controlled trials, involving a total of 478,586 PIVCs.

Key Findings:

- Catheter-Associated Bloodstream Infections:
The pooled proportion of catheter-associated bloodstream infections was found to be 0.028%, translating to approximately 4.40 infections per 100,000 catheter-days. This emphasizes the relatively low occurrence of infections per PIVC but becomes alarming when considering the sheer volume of PIVCs used globally, which exceeds two billion each year.

- Local Infections:
Local infections were reported in 0.150% of PIVCs, with an incidence rate of 65.1 per 100,000 catheter-days. While the percentage may seem low, the incidence rate highlights the rapid spread of local infections when they do occur.

- All-Cause PIVC Failure:
The study found that 36.4% of PIVCs experienced all-cause failure before treatment completion. This failure rate is a significant concern, affecting one in three catheters and resulting in an overall incidence rate of 4.42 failures per 100 catheter days.

Implications and Interpretation:

The research underscores the widespread issue of PIVC failure, impacting patient care and healthcare costs globally. While the occurrence of infections per PIVC is relatively low, the sheer volume of catheters in use magnifies the associated burden. The consequences of PIVC failure extend beyond the immediate health implications, encompassing treatment disruption, increased healthcare costs, and adverse patient outcomes.


Peripheral intravenous catheters are ubiquitous in healthcare settings, but their association with infections and failures demands attention. This systematic review and meta-analysis bring to light the need for substantial and systemic efforts to address PIVC-related complications. By addressing these issues head-on, healthcare practitioners and policymakers can work together to mitigate the risks associated with PIVCs, ensuring a safer and more effective patient care experience.

Read More:https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38142634/ 

Authors: Nicole Marsh, Emily N Larsen, Amanda J Ullman, Gabor Mihala, Marie Cooke, Vineet Chopra, Gillian Ray-Barruel, Claire M Rickard


Griffith University
Australia 4111