A pioneering vascular ultrasound program has greatly improved the accuracy of IV “needle sticks” at St. Joseph’s Healthcare System.
Matthew Ostroff, a nurse who is board-certified in Vascular Access, approached hospital leadership with the idea, making a strong case for how using ultrasound for vascular access could improve patient outcomes. Realizing the potential benefits across a wide range of medical practice – from ER services to pediatrics and surgery – St. Joseph’s rapidly adopted the program throughout the system.
The program is a case study in the potential of point-of-care ultrasound. While traditional, broad-based ultrasound education can take years of study, point-of-care practitioners can be trained in vascular ultrasound-guided IV in just a few weeks.
At the same time, the benefits reported are significant. The key goal for the program is “vessel preservation” – the consistent access of blood vessels with minimal damage. Ultrasound guidance allows practitioners to locate the blood vessel on the first try, without resorting to more invasive catheters like central lines. This can make a big difference, especially for patients requiring multiple treatments.
The numbers reported by St. Joseph’s speak for themselves:
As a result of these changes, patient outcomes at the healthcare system have been significantly improved.
One beneficiary is 16-year-old Ziaira Dollar, who was used to experiencing needle insertions of up to 20 minutes. The more needle sticks missed their target, the more Ziaira’s veins got “used up”, making them even harder to locate, causing a vicious cycle of pain and frustration. When Ziaira was transferred to St. Joseph’s, Ostroff administered her first one-stick treatment.
Mary Cadet, Ziaira’s guardian, considers the technology revolutionary. “It is beyond soothing as a parent to know that your child won’t be going through additional pain and that the job is going to get done with one stick,” she said.