Dedicated IV access team in place at Margate’s QEQM Hospital

The IV access team

East Kent Hospitals aims to improve patient care and cut stress for people at major injuries units by being the first in the UK to put in place dedicated IV access teams in their Emergency Departments.

The teams, at Margate and Ashford, have been given specialist training and now use ultrasound equipment so that the procedures to take blood samples or insert cannulas can be done first time when a patient is admitted.

Elsewhere in the UK, trusts often use junior doctors and nurses in Emergency Departments tocarry out the procedures. This process can often be difficult and even painful for patients, particularly for those where it is difficult to find a vein.

In fact, it can often take 30 minutes or more and include many unsuccessful attempts before being completed without using ultrasound equipment. This can result in a great deal of distress for patients.

The job of the new IV Access teams at Margate’s Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital and Ashford’s William Harvey Hospital is to quickly find a suitable vein in a patient as soon as they enter the Emergency Departments.

This allows blood samples to be taken very quickly so results can be obtained and passed straight to medical decision makers.

It also allows IV treatment to start as soon as it is needed and for checks to be made for conditions such as Sepsis. Some 150 patients each day benefit from this new service.

The innovative move also frees up doctors’ and nurses’ time at the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust and aims to have a positive impact on Emergency Department waiting times.

Medical staff and patients say they are pleased with the work they do, with Dr Ashley Hill describing them as ‘Lifesavers who always have a smile on their faces’.

The two specialist teams, which consist of a team leader and four technicians each, are the brainchild of Gemma Oliver, Nurse Consultant IV Care/Senior Surgical Matron and Dr Matt Jones, Consultant Anaesthetist and IV Access Team lead.

They came up with the idea after the senior management team put out a call for new ideas from staff that could improve emergency patient care.

They had already introduced the use of ultrasound equipment in Emergency Departments for difficult IV access by the medical and nursing staff in 2010 and had seen its benefit.

However, staff were having to perform the procedure in addition to their other clinical duties, so having a dedicated team means that someone is now always available for the task.

Before they started the specially selected teams underwent a rigorous eight-week training course, including the use of ultrasound as standard practice.

Gemma said: “East Kent Hospitals Trust is a very innovative employer and believes in developing its staff’s skills to improve patient care.

“In 2010, we started teaching ultrasound guided IV techniques among doctors and nurses in our emergency department when taking blood from patients with difficult veins and introducing these new dedicated teams seemed like the next logical step.

“The ultrasound equipment enables staff to detect a suitable vein. They can see exactly how far under the skin the vein is and can check its width as well as make sure it is large enough for IVs or for taking a blood sample.

“In most cases this means that the this can be first time whereas without using these specialist teams it can take many attempts and lead to pain and distress for patients.

Dr Matt Jones added: “The teams are really having a positive impact on patient care and allow doctors on duty to receive blood sample results as soon as possible so they can make informed decisions and start specialist treatment much more quickly.

“They also free up junior doctors and nurses who would otherwise be doing this so they can concentrate on helping treat patients.”

Report by Sarah Landers