The Non-Injectable Connector (NIC), developed in Kings Lynn Hospital, helps to avoid complications associated with arterial lines by preventing bacterial contamination, blood spillage and accidental administration of medication into the artery.

Arterial lines are used in the ICU to accurately measure blood pressure on a second by second basis. However, these lines are associated with complications highlighted by the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) Rapid Response Alert (2008). These include bacterial contamination, blood spillage and, due to possible confusion with venous lines, accidental administration of medication into the artery instead of the vein.

The Non-Injectable Connector (NIC) makes arterial lines and blood sampling techniques safer. Its origins lie in a local ‘fix’: one of the consultants at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn started wrapping tape around the arterial sampling port to reduce the risk of the junior doctors accidentally giving medication into this line.

The NIC has now received regulatory approval, and local trials have established its effectiveness – while also providing evidence that it is easier to use for clinical staff.
  • The current project is looking to build a wider evidence base for the effectiveness for the NIC, gain wider feedback on its usability, and embed its use across participating trusts. In order to overcome a common barrier to the use of new products – cost – the NIC is being provided free of charge to participating Trusts. The project team is also building wider interest in the NIC by talking to a range of stakeholder groups, including vascular access groups, financial groups, new product groups and patient safety groups.
  • A particular challenge for a project of this nature lies in the fact that the quality of data depends on the work of many individual across many centres. To address this challenge, the team have developed an innovative approach which sees data collected on iPads, using a commercially available application, and sent to a central server. To keep the process as easy as possible for participants, the application can be tailored to each users local circumstances.
  • This data-collection mechanism is supported by a research assistant, who checks through the data received each day for gaps. This enables the team to identify problems and offer help early. Where appropriate, a research nurse working with the team provides on-site support.
  • The team is also taking active steps to ensure that the work of participants is properly appreciated, and credit appropriately shared. The trial (which is being run in parallel with two other trials) began with an event which gave participants an opportunity to get to know each other and form a sense of community and purpose. The role of staff involved in collecting data has been designed to support their own career development – for instance by completing a clinical audit, gaining CPD points and making local presentations of data. Participants who make significant contributions will be named on the publications produced from the study.

If you would like to find out more about the project, please contact Dr Maryanne Mariyaselvam

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