• Peripheral venepuncture results in fear, stigma, pain, & distress for those with DVA.

  • This poor acceptability of traditional venepuncture leads to service disengagement.

  • External jugular venepuncture is highly acceptable & improves resource utilization.


Background: Difficult venous access (DVA) is common in liver patients requiring blood collection using traditional peripheral approaches. This study aimed to understand the experience of DVA for liver patients and the acceptability of peripheral venepuncture versus external jugular venepuncture (EJV). A secondary aim was to explore the impact of EJV on local resource utilization.

Methods: Semistructured interviews with liver outpatients with DVA (n = 10) requiring venepuncture were firstly themed inductively. We then deductively applied the acceptability framework of Sekhon et al. as a further analytic lens. Audit data from DVA encounters (n = 24) allowed analysis of issues from multiple perspectives. The Consolidated Criteria for Reporting Qualitative Research reporting checklist guides this report.

Results: Peripheral venepuncture had poor prospective, concurrent, and retrospective acceptability, requiring significant mental and physical preparation. Fear, stigma, pain and distress, poor continuity of care, and poor effectiveness led to service disengagement. While EJV caused initial trepidation, it had high concurrent and retrospective acceptability. The significant improvement in patient experience was corroborated by audit data for both procedure duration (5 versus 15 minutes) and first attempt success (100 versus 28.5%) for EJV versus peripheral venepuncture, respectively. While EJV required a recumbent position, it required less staff.

Conclusions: EJV is highly acceptable to patients, using less time and staff resources. EJV protocols and staff training should be considered where DVA presentations are common. Individualized care plans and careful care coordination could divert DVA patients needing venepuncture to services that use EJV preferentially.

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