Peripheral intravenous (PIV) catheters are the most commonly used catheters in hospitals, with up to 70% of patients requiring a peripheral venous line during their hospital stay. This represents 200 million PIV catheters used per year in acute-care hospitals in the United States alone. These medical devices are also used in other health care settings, such as long-term care facilities and nursing homes, and common indications include the administration of medications, nutrients, and fluids. These catheters require proper maintenance and care to avoid complications such as phlebitis, infiltration, occlusion, local infection, and bloodstream infection. Recently it has been suggested that PIV catheter use may lead to a higher rate of complications than previously thought. This is important because some studies have claimed that the rate of bloodstream infections due to PIV catheters is actually comparable to the rates observed with central venous catheters, rather than much lower as previously thought. Moreover, catheter-related infections are now seen as largely preventable. Our goal was to review the current literature and provide an overview of the various approaches used to manage PIV catheter sites as well as review current recommendations.

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