Venipuncture is the most common invasive procedure performed in the emergency department 1 , likely due to the fact that the vast majority of our laboratory evaluations require blood and many of our life saving interventions require access to the patient’s systemic circulation. Most of the time emergency department staff are able to perform this procedure easily, but occasionally you find that your patient is the dreaded “difficult stick”. Literature suggests that the landmark technique is successful on the initial venipuncture 74-77% of the time. 2–5 Success rates rise after multiple attempts, but what happens when you don’t have the luxury of time? What happens when your patient will die if you don’t get life saving medications into their circulation promptly? There are a few options when you can’t get IV access through traditional means, among them external jugular vein cannulation, central line, ultrasound-guided IV, and the intraosseous lines (IO).6 However, when managing the crashing patient, a wise decision is to use the quickest option, which is often the IO.
About Jacob Hennings, MDDirector of Simulation, Director of Medical Student Education
Department of EM, UTCOM;
Attending Physician, Erlanger Hospital