Reducing Arterial Catheter Injuries in the Cardiac Center

Published on in CHOP News

Safety pin iconKeep Patients Safe
Smiley face iconReduce Suffering
4 arrows pointing to the center of a circle iconReduce Unnecessary Care

Why is this important?

A small plastic tube (catheter) placed in a wrist or leg artery is necessary for continuous blood pressure measurement and frequent blood sampling in children undergoing heart and lung surgery and during their stay in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU). While leaving a catheter in an artery is usually safe, injuries can occur. There was a trend of increased injuries involving damage to the skin around the artery — some of these patients required plastic surgery consultation for wound care.

What we did

A team from cardiac anesthesiology, the CICU, and wound care at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) came together to address this problem. The team standardized the management of the arterial catheters in the operating room using a continuous infusion of a medicine to reduce clot formation and reduce arterial injury. They also performed an injury bedside review with the goal of reducing the amount of time the child had the line.


The rate of arterial injury was successfully reduced.

Graph: Arterial line injury rate per 1000 arterial line day

Updated May, 2020

Next Steps

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