Management of Peripheral Intravenous Catheters

This new national clinical care standard will be launched via an online webcast on 26 May 2021.

National launch and live webcast

Inserting a peripheral intravenous catheter (PIVC) - or cannula - is one of the most common procedures performed in hospitals, with approximately 7.7 million Australians undergoing the procedure each year. Despite this, PIVCs are associated with a range of problems including unnecessary cannulation, multiple insertion attempts and significant complications such as infection, including Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia.

This standard addresses key areas for improvement in the safety and quality of PIVC use, including insertion, maintenance and removal of PIVCs.

Hear experts from infection control, anaesthetics and vascular access discuss practical ways to:

  • Reduce unnecessary cannulations and avoidable infections
  • Maximise first insertion success
  • Inform and partner with patients.

Register to attend the online webcast launch

The Management of Peripheral Intravenous Catheters Clinical Care Standard will be launched on:

Wednesday, 26 May 2021, 12:30-1:30 pm AEST

Find out more about the event and register now to attend the free live webcast.


A peripheral intravenous catheter (PIVC) is a small flexible tube that is inserted through the skin into a peripheral vein. This allows for the administration of a range of therapies such as medicines and fluids directly into the bloodstream, which otherwise cannot be given, or are less effective if given by other ways such as by mouth.

The insertion of a PIVC is one of the most common clinical procedures performed, with up to 70% of hospitalised patients requiring a PIVC at some point during their hospital stay. However, studies estimate that 4% to 28% of PIVCs inserted are never used. This is even higher in Australian emergency departments, where about 50% of PIVCs inserted are not used, placing patients unnecessarily at risk of infection.

Despite their frequency of use, PIVCs are reportedly associated with complications up to almost 70% of the time, including:

  • blockage and dislodgement
  • redness and swelling of the vein
  • infection.

Unfortunately, not all attempts to insert PIVCs are successful. Nearly half of all first insertion attempts fail, causing undue pain and anxiety for patients as a result of multiple failed attempts.

To reduce rates of complications associated with PIVC use, best practice guidelines recommend a range of strategies. Despite this, data from Australia and internationally suggest that a significant proportion of patients do not receive care as recommended to optimise use of PIVCs.

Development of the clinical care standard

The standard was developed following consultation with a roundtable meeting of healthcare managers, infection control clinicians and consumers, with further advice from a small topic working group drawn from the roundtable meeting.

Feedback obtained during public consultation has been incorporated into the final version. The standard has been endorsed by a number of key organisations.

All attendees and working group participants are required to disclose financial, personal and professional interests that could, or could be perceived to, influence a decision made, or advice given to the Commission. Disclosures are managed in line with the Commission’s Policy on Disclosure of Interests

Literature reviews

To inform development of the standard, the Commission engaged the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and KP Health to carry out two literature reviews: