The use of central venous catheters (CVCs) is an essential part of neonatal care allowing delivery of intravenous fluids and medication. The use of these catheters is associated with a number of complications. Whilst catheter-associated infection is well recognised and subject to scrutiny, extravasation into a body cavity is less common but potentially fatal if tamponade ensues. A recent national survey revealed wide variation in practices around umbilical catheter insertion and management.
Following several case reports of fatal CVC associated extravasation BAPM was contacted by NHS England (Patient Safety Domain) to review the use of CVCs (both umbilical and peripherally-inserted) in neonates with the aim to reduce harm and improve safety.