PICC vs central line: not that clear cut 

From Patient Safety Solutions: http://www.patientsafetysolutions.com/docs/January_21_2014_The_PICC_Myth.htm

PICC lines (peripherally inserted central catheter)  are often seen as a lower risk alternative to central lines for patients with difficulty iv access, however this is a myth and piccs are not without risk including:

  • Higher risk of upper extremity dvt (2.55 or and account for 35% of all ue dvt)
  • Similar risk of infection!  Meta analysis and systematic reviews show no sig diff in clabsi! 
  • Other complications include thrombophlebitis,and dysfx and malpositioning greater for PICC than central line 

These concerns prompted the ABIM choosing wisely campaign to include piccs on their list of treatments to question:

Don’t place, or leave in place, peripherally inserted central catheters for patient or provider convenience.

Peripherally inserted central catheters (or “PICCs”) are commonly used devices in contemporary medical practice that are associated with two costly and potentially lethal health care-acquired complications: central-line associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI) and venous thromboembolism (VTE). Given the clinical and economic consequences of these complications, placement of PICCs should be limited to acceptable indications (long-term intravenous antibiotics, total parenteral nutrition, chemotherapy and frequent blood draws). PICCs should be promptly removed when acceptable indications for their use ends.

So next time someone recommends a PICC over a central line, think about the indications and necessity! 


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