Results of a new survey by The Harris Poll reveal that many patients receive too many needlesticks in hospital procedures, which amplifies misconceptions and lack of awareness from Americans on the risks of common medical procedures.

The “Accepted But Unacceptable” Practice of Repeated Needlesticks

Needlesticks are an often-overlooked challenge but can be one of the most traumatic aspects of a patient’s hospital stay. More than half of Americans (51%) report some fear of needles, and of that group, a top reason is fear of needing multiple needle insertions (31%).

The survey findings reflect that this concern isn’t unwarranted: a shocking 11% of survey participants with recent hospital experience needed 10 or more sticks to obtain a single blood sample – and more than half required multiple needlestick attempts for a single procedure (59% for IVs and 71% for blood draws). Moreover, 77% of patients are unaware that regardless of their conditions, patients should expect no more than two needlestick attempts from one clinician.

Nurses Agree That Repetitive Needlesticks Negatively Impact Patient Care Delivery and Workflow

Unsurprisingly, the survey highlights nurses’ strong concern about the impact of repeated needlesticks on the patient care experience. Most nurses agree that repeated needlesticks negatively impact the patient experience and say that alternatives are needed to reduce the number of needlesticks patients encounter (92% and 91%, respectively).

More than just providing a better experience, nurses agree that delays to patient treatment caused by difficult venous access or fear of needles are a problem (89% and 84%, respectively), and 67% agree that issues related to vessel access consume too much time and contribute to workflow inefficiencies.

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Repeated needlestick attempts create additional work and add stress for the frontline clinician, many of whom are already feeling the impact of increased patient volume, labor shortages, and unprecedented staffing demands,” said Rachelle Landry, a registered nurse (RN) and vice president of Clinical Transformation at BD. “Additionally, repetitive sticks risk damaging a patient’s vessel health and future access for care needs.”

Interest in New solutions is High – But More Education and Advocacy are Needed to Drive Change 

New technologies, such as ultrasound guidance systems, are available to drive first-stick insertion success for IVs and needle-free blood collection that uses an existing IV line to draw a blood sample without the additional stick.

However, while relatively few Americans know these technologies (25% for ultrasound guidance systems and 17% for needle-free blood draw), interest in these technologies is incredibly high (88% and 89%, respectively). Nurses are more aware of these solutions (91% and 62%, respectively), and their interest is near universal (97% and 100%, respectively).

After seeing the various risks associated with needlesticks, most Americans (85%) surveyed agree they will be better advocates for themselves in future hospital stays.

A Vision for a Better Future

BD has long been on the path toward creating a better and more compassionate standard of care for patients and providers through its “One-Stick Hospital Stay” vision that imagines a future where a needlestick could be a single occurrence during a hospital stay. This includes a three-pronged approach to advance the standard of care for IV therapy and blood draws:

  1. Enable the right device to be placed successfully the first time.
  2. Use that device as a single access point for required therapies and blood draws.
  3. Help the device last throughout the patient’s hospital stay.
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Survey Methodology 

This survey was conducted online in the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of BD among 2,006 adults age 18+ from December 11-28, 2023, including those who have received IV therapy or blood draws during a hospital stay lasting overnight or longer in the past 24 months. Harris online polls’ sampling precision is measured using a Bayesian credible interval. For this study, the total sample data is accurate to within +/- 2.8 percentage points using a 95% confidence level. In addition, the survey included 106 RNs working in hospitals in the United States, and for this sample, the data is accurate to within +/- 10.9 percentage points using a 95% confidence level.

Renee Hewitt
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