When you get admitted to a hospital, there are so many steps that happen. Unless you are a medical professional, you sort of go with the flow and trust your doctors. However, it is no secret that some people become anxious around hospitals.
There’s always worry about pain and whether diagnoses and results will be positive or negative. If it’s your first time in a hospital, having needles and tubes injected can be scary.
While the process may be normal and routine for medical professionals, first-time patients can benefit by understanding what’s happening around them. In this article, we will provide some much-needed context on what vascular access devices are.
What Are Vascular Access Devices, and What Role Do They Serve?
A vascular access device (VAD), also known as a vascular access port or catheter, is a common medical device. It is used to access the bloodstream for the purpose of delivering medication, and fluids, and drawing blood samples.
VADs are crucial tools in modern healthcare, as they provide a means to perform diagnostic tests without repeated needle insertions. This can be uncomfortable and can damage veins over time.
The language around them can be a bit confusing to non-medical professionals. You might hear terms like IV lines, catheters, and vascular access devices being used interchangeably, and that can be confusing. In reality, each type focuses on different aspects of accessing the bloodstream.
Most people aren’t worried about the terminology. In most cases, they are worried about what the experience feels like. Thankfully, insertion is relatively quick and painless. You might feel a stinging sensation, but it’s nowhere as bad as you fear. There are also a few ways to minimize discomfort.
That said, not all VADs are equal, and some may require anesthesia to numb the area beforehand.
What Are Some Common Types of Vascular Access Devices?
There are several types of VADs, and the type you get will depend on your specific medical requirements and needs. Let’s look at three of the most commonly used ones.
1. Peripheral Intravenous Catheters
This is one of the most common types. It involves inserting a short, thin tube into a peripheral vein, typically in the arm or hand. Peripheral IVs are often used for short-term treatments and are relatively easy to insert and remove.
2. Central Venous Catheter
Central venous catheters are inserted into large veins in the chest or neck and are used for longer-term treatments. There are a number of different types within this category. These include implanted ports, tunneled central venous, and peripherally inserted central.
3. Arterial Catheter
These are inserted into an artery to administer medications or fluids directly into the arterial system. They are often used in intensive care units (ICUs) and emergency departments, to provide real-time information about a patient’s oxygenation status.
Are Vascular Access Devices Safe?
For the most part, yes. VADs are safe when used correctly and inserted with care. However, like any medical procedure or device, there are potential risks and complications that can occur.
To mitigate this risk, healthcare providers adhere to strict aseptic techniques during catheter insertion. Moreover, catheters are often coated with antimicrobial agents.
Sometimes, catheters can promote blood clot formation, which can obstruct the catheter or migrate to other parts of the body. This risk is more common with central venous catheters and can be minimized by using anticoagulant solutions and flushing protocols.
The key point to remember is that wherever there is a risk, there is also a preventive method to reduce said risk. Sometimes, the fault is not with the hospital or the staff, but elsewhere. Let’s find out how.
Manufacturer Faults Can Create Unexpected Problems
The recent Bard Power Port lawsuit shows this clearly. There have been complaints by several patients that the device is prone to fracturing inside the body. If this happens, it puts the patient at risk of serious injuries.
When this flaw was first noticed, the FDA issued a recall in March 2020. However, that recall was terminated last year.
According to TorHoerman Law, more than 50 cases have so far been filed against its manufacturer, Becton, Dickinson, and Company. Catheter fractures and migrations are no laughing matter. If you or anyone you know suffered as a result of their products, seek legal recourse immediately.
You might not be able to undo the experience, but the settlement amounts can help compensate for extra medical bills.
Healthcare providers often place a big emphasis on medical error prevention and follow strict protocols to reduce risks.
That said, risks and complications are always possible. Sometimes, even with rigorous safety standards, defects in medical devices can lead to serious consequences for patients.
In that regard, trust is critical, and patients and their families shouldn’t hesitate to voice their concerns. Many people are hesitant to speak up because they don’t want to appear suspicious or question a doctor. However, the more information that patients have going into hospitals, the better.
Of course, VAD-related issues occur rarely, and catheter fractures only happen in exceptional cases. Doctors and nurses can also help by offering a few words of reassurance to anxious patients.