• Multimorbid patients with DIVA required more catheters than those without DIVA.

  • The DIVA group required devices of smaller calibre and more insertion attempts.

  • Catheter dwell time was similar but adverse events rate was higher in DIVA group.

  • Nearly 20% of catheters were inadequate for the therapy prescribed in all patients.

  • The results evidenced the need to improve adherence to clinical practice guidelines.


Background: More than half of patients with multimorbidity require intravenous therapy during their hospital stay. The aims of this study are to describe difficult intravenous access (DIVA) and vascular access care provided to this patient population and to explore the differences between easy and DIVA groups.

Methods: A cohort study was conducted in patients with multimorbidity admitted to 2 hospitals between March and November 2013. The variables used to describe vascular care included choice and placement of devices, catheter swell time, and occurrence of adverse events. The incidence of adverse events was expressed as number cases per 1000 catheter days and χ2, Student’s t, or Mann-Whitney U tests were used to compare the care provided between both groups. Odds rates were calculated to determine the risk of complications associated with DIVA.

Results: We recruited 135 patients, of whom 34.8% were women. Overall, 59.3% had DIVA. A total of 224 catheters were inserted, patients with difficult access requiring a mean of 1.71 catheters and those with easy access 1.58 catheters. Two or more attempts were required to place catheters in 23% of cases in the difficult access group versus 2.50% in the easy access group. Mean catheter dwell time was 3.84 days and 3.99 days, and the adverse event rate was 111/1000 and 83.6/1000 catheter days, respectively. The odds ratio for complications was 1.596.

Conclusions: Multimorbid patients with DIVA have a higher rate of complications as well as requiring more catheters and more placement attempts.

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