Tunneled Catheter Fracture – Nurse Clinicians in Action-04

A patient with a tunneled catheter fracture and how the Vascular Access clinician removed the tunneled catheter even though tunneled catheters are generally under the purview of doctors is the focus of this Nurse Clinicians in Action.  Nurse Clinicians in Action is a spotlight series highlighting some of the interesting cases that Vascular Wellness clinicians have encountered and participated in treatment. These cases generally involve challenging situations or intriguing clinical presentations and may involve more than one Vascular Wellness clinician as our clinicians have the ability to consult each other while in the field, as well as an on call Clinical Administrator via a HIPAA compliant communication app.  Our extensive training program and diverse client base including Level 1 Trauma Centers, Short Term Acute Care Hospitals, Long Term Acute Care Hospitals, and Skilled Nursing Facilities provide our clinicians a wide array of clinical experience and why we believe our clinicians, as a group, are the most experienced and best trained and supported vascular access clinicians.

Tunneled Catheter Fracture – Clinical Case

This case took place in a long-term acute care hospital (LTAC), as the patient required intensive rehabilitation after a long stay in a critical care hospital.  The patient was morbidly obese with a history of smoking and suffered a cerebral vascular accident (CVA), also known as a stroke.  Her mobility was severely limited, and this led to the development of a large sacral decubitus ulcer which became infected.  The critical care hospital treatment team placed a Broviac central venous catheter, a tunneled catheter with tip termination in the lower aspect of the superior vena cava (SVC), a large vein in the chest.  This decision was made with the knowledge that this patient would need long term access for ongoing treatment of the infection.  After transfer to the LTAC, the clamping of this central venous catheter at an improper location led to a catheter fracture, a complication that can have serious consequences including bleeding, infection, and air embolus due to the non-intact catheter.

The LTAC physicians were uncomfortable removing this fractured tunneled catheter and consulted Vascular Wellness to place a new central catheter in preparation for having the fractured tunneled catheter removed with a trip back to Interventional Radiology (IR) at the critical care hospital.  This transfer would have been potentially hazardous to the patient as she was still on a ventilator, as well as being very costly.  This required a critical care transport which would have included a RN and a Respiratory Therapist as well as transport drivers and EMTs.

Tunneled Catheter Fracture – Diagnosis and Treatment

The Vascular Wellness clinician understood the gravity of the situation, as none of the rehab doctors could remove the tunneled catheter.  Fortunately, this clinician had personally petitioned and received approval by the North Carolina Board of Nursing (BON) to place and remove tunneled lines.

The Vascular Wellness clinician consulted with the managing LTAC physician and proposed that the cost and risk of critical care transport could be eliminated by removing the fractured tunneled catheter at the bedside.  In addition to being intrigued, the physician was pleasantly surprised as in addition to the risk and cost of critical transport being eliminated, all the reporting and transfer paperwork required for such move could be as well.  The Vascular Wellness clinician successfully removed the tunneled catheter without incident in the traditional manner and placed a new PICC which allowed the patient to continue without further interruption with much needed antibiotic therapy without leaving the facility.

Of note, the Vascular Wellness clinician saw this patient a few months later, and the patient had improved enough to be moved to a Skilled Nursing Facility.  She had lost over 60 pounds and was mobile and walking.  She was a much healthier version of herself than when she was first recovering from her stroke.  Seeing a patient progress was very satisfying for this clinician, similar to all Vascular Wellness clinicians.

Vascular Access Experts – Key Points

Vascular Wellness believes deeply in its vision of Advancing Healthcare and Empowering Nurses.  Developing and furthering the Advanced Vascular Access Clinician role is core to this belief.  Vascular Wellness is a leading clinical nursing company as demonstrated by our nurses placing Small Bore Lines and Large Bore Lines, as well as our nurses using the latest technology for proper line placement confirmation.  The tunneled catheter program is in development, and we look forward to adding tunneled catheters to our advanced and cutting-edge skill set across our nurses.

Vascular Wellness clinicians have placed hundreds of thousands of lines and this experience enables us to assess and treat a situation properly and if a line is damaged and needs to be removed, to be able to address the situation. Further, by having the tools of ultrasound (US) Guided PIVs, Midlines, PICCs, Small Bore lines such as Internal Jugular lines (IJs) and Femoral lines (Fems), Large Bore lines including Vas Caths and Quad Lumens, and soon to be more broadly available Tunneled lines, Vascular Wellness is able to create clinically appropriate access in virtually all patients even in situations such as above when the tunneled line is fractured and needs to be removed or is not performing for any number of reasons.   These factors, along with a consultative approach with the treating physician, are just a few reasons why Vascular Wellness improves patient outcomes, reduces costs, and strengthens infection control.

If you require Vascular Access or want to learn more, speak to the team at Vascular Wellness today.

Vascular Wellness Serves North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia and expanding to Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

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