Digital PVC Audit Template

Maintain compliance with IV line safety standards to prevent malpractice and complications

Published 16 Nov 2020

What is a PVC Audit?

A peripheral venous catheter audit or PVC audit is a scheduled inspection of a medical patient’s IV line, typically inserted in the back of the hand or the lower part of the arm. PVC audits or inspections are done to ensure that the catheter is properly inserted, stable, and free from any damage or defects that may cause harm to the patient or healthcare providers.

The Medical Risks of Neglecting PVC Audits

Administering IV lines for fluid replacement, delivering liquid medicine, and blood transfusions is a common practice in hospitals around the world. Even though the insertion of IV lines is a routine procedure, trained medical professionals still make fundamental mistakes on occasion. For this reason, regular PVC audits are important in order to ensure patient safety.

Below are some of the potential medical risks when PVC audits are neglected:

IV Line Infections

The most common preventable medical risk associated with peripheral venous catheters are bloodstream infections (BSI). Needles, catheters, and medical gloves need to be properly sterilized prior to IV line administration, and best practices must be followed to minimize the chances of BSIs from occurring. Common symptoms of IV line infections include redness, pain, and swelling around the insertion site, and unexplained fever. IV line infections are problematic for a number of reasons:

  • it hinders the patient’s recovery from their initial disease or injury
  • it can cause damage to other regions of the body since bacteria can easily travel through the bloodstream
  • it is considered preventable, which means doctors and hospitals will have to shoulder the treatment costs without financial assistance from insurers

A PVC audit schedule sets healthcare providers up to routinely check on IV lines so infections are identified ASAP, and maintenance tasks can be performed to prevent infections from ever occurring.

Fluid Leakage (Extravasation)

Also known as extravasation, fluid leakage refers to instances where IV solutions spill out of the veins and directly onto extravascular tissue. This can happen when healthcare providers make IV insertion errors such as puncturing the wrong site, or when they fail to properly maintain and secure IV lines causing the catheter to dislodge from the vein. Fluid leakage can cause serious, permanent harm including tissue necrosis, disfigurement, and amputation. Medical practitioners can perform PVC audits to ensure that nurses adhere to proper IV line administration and maintenance techniques so fluid leakage can be avoided.

Vein Inflammation (Phlebitis)

Vein inflammation happens when veins start to become irritated due to the injury caused by inserting IV needles. Symptoms may include pain, tenderness, and redness. Healthcare providers need to monitor patients to ensure that no signs of vein inflammation go unnoticed. When symptoms become apparent, nurses can remove IV lines and use a warm compress to the affected area. Regularly changing the insertion site of IV lines can help prevent phlebitis since it gives veins time to recover.

Air Embolism

This refers to any amount of air entering the patient’s bloodstream, effectively forming an air bubble inside the veins which can impede or outright stop blood from flowing. Air embolisms are always considered critical since they can easily cause circulatory shock which can lead to sudden death. An IV line can accidentally inject air into a patient’s vein upon insertion. The treatment for air embolisms depend on the amount of air in the patient’s bloodstream. In some cases, medical practitioners may place their patients in a sitting position to avoid the embolism from traveling to critical organs such as the brain, heart, and lungs, and other instances may require surgery to release the air embolism.

Bruising (Hematoma)

A hematoma occurs when a vein is punctured and blood starts leaking onto the surrounding tissue. This can happen if the medical practitioner accidentally punctures both the outer and inner walls of a vein, or if pressure is not applied on the puncture site immediately after catheter removal.

Best Practices to Prevent PVC Complications

As catastrophic as IV line complications can be, they are preventable. Nurses, doctors, and other medical practitioners need only adhere to best practices in order to minimize the chances of complications resulting from the administration of peripheral venous catheters.

Here are some best practices for medical practitioners to follow in order to minimize the risk of PVC complications:

Provide Staff Education and Refreshers

Because of its status as the most common invasive procedure in the medical field, healthcare providers may take PVC administrations for granted and end up making elementary mistakes such as mixing-up the IV bags of patients. Hospitals and other medical establishments need to ensure that their staff is sufficiently educated and regularly updated on the best safety practices for PVC insertion in order to lower the chances of PVC complications from ever occurring.

Always Sterilize the PVC Kit and Puncture Site

The most important step in administering PVCs is to make sure that the needle, catheter, and puncture site are sterilized with the appropriate antiseptic solution in order to avoid blood infection or sepsis. Healthcare providers must be knowledgeable on safe IV insertion and removal practices in order to avoid healthcare associated infections (HCAI).

Secure and Stabilize the Catheter

To avoid pain and complications after the catheter is put in place, medical practitioners must properly stabilize it. Nurses must consider natural arm movements when taping the cannula in place to avoid accidental yanking by the patient. This is especially important considering that an unstable PVC puts patients at risk of extravasation which can cause serious and permanent damage to tissue.

Paperless PVC Audits With the iAuditor Mobile App

Considering the large number of PVCs being administered on a daily basis, along with the procedure’s inherent risks, healthcare providers must be vigilant in their work to avoid complications. One of the best ways to ensure patient safety is through consistent PVC audits via iAuditor by SafetyCulture, a versatile mobile and web audit app which allows healthcare providers to do the following:

  • Move away from paper checklists and create custom smartforms with a drag-and-drop template builder
  • Perform comprehensive PVC audits on their mobile device anytime, anywhere, even while offline
  • Assign corrective actions mid-audit to the right people and track progress on the app
  • Automatically save their audit data via unlimited cloud storage for safety and security
  • Automatically generate PVC audit reports and quickly share to the right people for easy visibility
  • Visualize their PVC audit data via advanced web analytics to identify patterns and spot trends which can help resolve issues from the root
  • Empower frontline members of the organization to be your eyes and ears on the ground, improving communication and overall collaboration to resolve problems as they arise
SafetyCulture Staff Writer

Juhlian Pimping

Juhlian Pimping has been writing about safety and quality topics for SafetyCulture since 2018. Before writing for SafetyCulture full-time, Juhlian worked in customer service and wrote for an Australian RTO.

Juhlian Pimping has been writing about safety and quality topics for SafetyCulture since 2018. Before writing for SafetyCulture full-time, Juhlian worked in customer service and wrote for an Australian RTO.