Recovery, reset, restore, reflect—these are some of the terms that I have heard in the past few weeks to describe the direction of most hospitals as they start to return to whatever the new normal is now going to be in health care. In intravenous (IV) therapy and vascular access practice, the past year has proven to be an opportunity to not only test doing things differently but also to keep what was successful and change what was not.
A great effort has been made to keep vulnerable patients away from hospital sites. Those with long-term vascular access devices are commonly vulnerable due to the nature of their clinical condition and as such have been safer at home shielding. Pre-COVID, they would have attended a hospital-based unit or had a visit from a community nurse, for weekly or monthly device care and maintenance and flushing.
During the pandemic, the risk of these patients being exposed to SARS-CoV-2 while having their vascular access devices flushed or dressings changed was too high a risk, so most teams around the UK adapted their polices for patients with IV devices to remain at home, electing to either teach patients and carers to self-care for the devices and flush them at home or, in the case of implanted ports, pushed recurring appointments for flushing devices back to 3 months.
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