By Claire Boyd

Whether administering IV fluids/electrolytes, medications, or blood components, these tips help you gain confidence in the process of inserting a cannula (remember to take your time):

  1. Talk to the patient while assessing the intended puncture site for the cannula.

    Feel for (palpate) a soft, bouncy, straight vein after the tourniquet is applied. Use devices that illuminate veins, such as fibre-optic or infrared light sources, if you have them. Remove the tourniquet.

  2. Assess whether an anaesthetic cream/spray is required, especially for children and needle-phobic patients.

    Small children may prefer to sit on a parent’s knee while undertaking this process for comfort.

  3. Clean the skin and anchor the vein by gently pulling down distal to where the skin has been cleaned, to stop the vein from moving when the needle is inserted.

    Warn the patient of a ‘sharp scratch’ before inserting the needle.

  4. Place the needle directly above the vein with the bevel side upwards, at a shallow angle to the vein.

    Insert the device.

  5. Conduct this activity in one quick motion.

    Look for flashback in the device to confirm that the needle is in the vein.