The Case for the IV Nurse


And the role they can play in your health system


The skills an IV nurse brings to a healthcare organization should not be overlooked. These nurses are experts at selecting the appropriate vein and placing the IV correctly the first time. Studies show proficient nurses achieve first stick success over 90% of the time, which eliminates wasted supplies from multiple needlestick attempts and improves efficiency in nursing time. Cheryl Ficara, senior vice president of operations at Hartford Hospital, underscores just how important this expertise is at her organization “Under excellent leadership, the team has applied evidence based, best practice interventions that are making a measurable improvement in patient care. They have proven to be a valuable resource to bedside nurses, helping increase catheter dwell times and improving the percentage of patients that only need one insertion.” The great work of the IV team at Hartford Hospital enabled them to grow from 5 people in 2015 to nearly 30 today. The increase in capacity has enabled the IV team to positively impact more insertions.

The nurse staffing issue has reached a boiling point. Recent studies have shown that 20-30% of front-line workers are considering leaving their job and nearly half of ICU workers are considering leaving their job. This impact is felt across the country. Healthcare leaders are searching for answers, rapidly innovating and recruiting to keep pace. There is no single answer to this complex problem, but expertise and skill of the IV Nurse may be one answer.

Look for small wins

A 2020 article in Harvard Business Review titled ‘To Solve Big Problems, Look for Small Wins’ cites a landmark paper from Karl Weick. Searching for “small wins,”, creates a psychological hardiness that allows leaders and their allies to draw on “imagination, knowledge, skill, and choice.” If we look at nursing shortage as a whole, the problem can feel overwhelming, but if we break it down into smaller more manageable parts it creates the right level of stress that spurs invigorating and measurable action. There are many examples of small wins taking shape within hospitals today. Advanced analytics are helping to pinpoint needs, the use of LPNs and expanding the role of virtual nurses are some of the many solutions being deployed to achieve small wins against a big problem.

A win for your patients

“Every patient admitted to our institution has a vascular access device inserted as part of their care.” Ficara explained, “Having a team with expertise dedicated to best practice over this important aspect of patient care is an asset to our organization’s outcomes, a value and time saver to fellow nursing colleagues and a positive contributor to our patient experience.” Needles rank as one of the top fears for patients. Minimizing the number of sticks while improving care is a huge win for patients at Hartford Hospital.

A win for leadership

Each year 350 million peripheral IVs (PIVs) are used, yet there are only 36 million admissions each year. While many PIVs are only intended for single use, it is estimated that the average use per inpatient stay is between 4 and 8 PIVs. This multi-step process occurs nearly 1 million times per day across hospitals in the U.S.

And that is just time… In 2021 alone, costs rose 14% to perform these steps every day in each U.S. hospital bed.

This IV Nurses Day, take time to thank your IV Nurses for their skill and commitment to IV therapy. “In honor of National IV Nurse Day, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks and appreciation for this incredible team of nurses.” Ficara said. IV nurses can provide small wins (and big wins) for patients and the health systems as they have at Hartford Hospital. Their expertise can make a positive impact on your organization.

Nexus Medical is starting a blog series on improving IV Therapy. If you are interested in learning more about improving care in IV Therapy, follow us on LinkedIn. If you have a topic on IV Therapy you would like to share on the Nexus Medical blog, contact us here.

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