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Open Access Article

Central Venous Access Devices: An Investigation of Oncology Nurses' Troubleshooting Techniques

Tina M. Mason
Sheila M. Ferrall
Alice R. Boyington
Richard R. Reich
CJON 2014, 18(4), 421-425 DOI: 10.1188/14.CJON.421-425

Experienced oncology nurses use different troubleshooting techniques for clearing occluded central venous access devices (CVADs) with varying degrees of success. The purpose of this study was to explore troubleshooting techniques used for clearing occluded CVADs by experienced oncology RNs and identify the perceived effectiveness of each technique. An invitation for a web-based survey was sent to select RN members of the Oncology Nursing Society. All nurses (N = 224) reported asking patients to raise and/or move their arm. Most nurses asked patients to lie down, cough, and take deep breaths. Respondents considered instilling a thrombolytic agent to be the most effective technique. No associations were found between techniques and respondents' years in oncology nursing, work setting, certification, or academic degree. The findings contribute to knowledge about care of patients with occluded devices and will help formulate direction for additional investigation of CVADs. Establishing the appropriateness of practice-related troubleshooting techniques may eliminate unnecessary steps and save nursing time. Educating nurses on the topic will also help reduce techniques that are not expected to yield results or are contraindicated.


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