The development of a nurse-driven protocol for the safe administration of vasopressors through peripheral intravenous catheters

Laura Padrone, Janet Galiczewski, Bernadette Amitrano, Seth Koenig, Mangala Narasimhan, Paul H. Mayo


Aim: The purpose of this quality improvement project was to develop a nurse-driven protocol to provide a safer, quicker, and less complication-prone alternative for the administration of vasopressors.

Background: The use of vasopressor medication is a common life saving intervention used to achieve hemodynamic stability in critically ill patients. Vasopressor infusions are routinely administered through central venous catheters (CVC) for fear that extravasation into subcutaneous tissue will result in ischemic injury. There are many potential complications of obtaining central venous access for vasopressor use, including pneumothoraces, arterial punctures and hematomas.

Design: Quality improvement project.

Methods: An interdisciplinary team developed a written protocol for the administration of vasopressors through peripheral intravenous (PIV) catheters based on the available scientific evidence. Key components of this quality improvement project were patient safety, a team approach and skilled monitoring of the infusion site. Critical care nurses were responsible for the line insertion, maintenance and identification of possible extravasation. All catheters placed were confirmed by ultrasonography and if extravasation of medication was suspected, the extravasation protocol was followed without delay.

Results: The protocol developed was utilized in a study by Cardenas-Garcia et al. (2015). Extravasation occurred in 19 of 734 patients (2%) without any tissue injury following the use of the extravasation protocol. This evidence-based protocol for peripherally administered vasopressors decreased central line use and the potential complications from the placement of CVCs. Strict adherence to this evidence-based nurse-driven protocol was essential for the safe administration of vasopressors via PIV access.

Conclusion/Clinical relevance: Peripheral administration of vasopressors has many beneficial implications for nursing practice. A nurse-driven protocol for peripheral vasopressors can eliminate the need for CVCs, which will reduce the incidence of central line-associated blood stream infections and decrease the number of central line days. This also may eliminate potential complications from CVC placement. Lastly, peripherally administered vasopressors may prevent a delay in treatment often experienced with placement of a central line.

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International Journal of Healthcare  ISSN 2377-7338(Print)  ISSN 2377-7346(Online)

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