New technology improves accuracy in catheter procedures

  • Tuesday, June 5, 2012

These days one change in an everyday medical procedure can translate into big improvements for patients and the people who care for them. Recently, the Vascular Access Team at Trident Medical Center (TMC) adopted a new technology, developed by BARD Access Systems and FDA approved, that’s not available at any other hospital in the Lowcountry. Two clinical studies have found the Sapiens Tip Confirmation System (TCS) to be 97 percent accurate on the first attempt in directing a catheter to the correct vein above the patient’s heart. “This new technology allows for precise placement of a PICC – peripherally inserted central venous catheter – and prompt verification that the catheter tip is exactly where it should be,” explains the team’s Clinical Coordinator Heide Welton, RN. Previously, a chest X-ray would be taken after the insertion of a PICC catheter to confirm the tip had reached the best location. But that often required the patient to wait about an hour for an X-ray to be completed and interpreted by a physician. “Sapiens works by monitoring the patient’s ECG – electrocardiogram – and monitoring changes in the patient’s wave form as the catheter tip nears the patient’s heart,” explains Randi Rexroad, RN, a PICC team nurse. “It speeds up the process by eliminating the time needed to process and evaluate an X-ray image.” Eliminating the need for an X-ray also saves expense and radiation exposure. (Even though a single X-ray would result in a low-level of radiation, TMC is making a concerted effort to limit each patient’s overall radiation exposure.)

“This system is another component of the state-of-the-art quality care Trident Medical Center offers its patients,” says Assistant Chief
Nursing Officer Bridget Denzik, RN, MSN.

Physicians order PICC’s for a variety of reasons such as intravenous nutrition, antibiotic therapy or chemotherapy. PICC lines are inserted in a vein in the patient’s upper arm and advanced through increasingly larger veins toward the heart until the tip is in the desired location. The Vascular Access Team nurses place about 100 of these lines each month, working at the patient’s bedside. “These are all exceptionally skilled and talented nurses,” says Welton. “I am extremely proud of the expertise the team has developed.” Members of the Vascular Access Team first learned about the new Sapiens TCS technology two years ago when it became available. Yet they waited for results on its success and vetted it with their own three-month trial at TMC before using it in the hospital on a widespread basis, says Welton. “We are constantly reviewing the latest technolo- gy and the best practice standards to see how we can do the best by our patients.” For medical questions or a free physician refer- ral, please call 843-797-FIND (3463.)

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