Arterial lines and arterial line sampling are used commonly enough in the intensive care unit that all precautions should be in place to protect the staff from possible harm arising from the procedure.It is used for many reasons in the intensive care unit and can not be avoided when working with critically ill patients. These patients may be infected with all manner of potentially dangerous microbial agents. When dealing with potentially infected blood, it is important that safety with regards to infection control is kept as a top priority. Arterial line sampling carries with it the risk of infected blood splashing or spraying, and in this manner coming in contact with the face and eyes.
Therefore, this proposal lays out a strategy for reducing this risk through the use of protective eye wear during the procedure. The change management strategy follows the intervention strategy model, which is based on systems theory. Possible issues with the change as well as solutions to these issues, especially that of compliance with the new policies, are laid out. These solutions include staff involvement in the change design, education on the suggested new policies and the reasoning behind these policies, and the placement of infection control personnel to perform use audits. Finally, future expansion of the use of this equipment for infection control is described. Arterial Line Sampling and the Use of Protective Eye Wear Background Information: Arterial lines are small, thin catheters placed in the peripheral arteries of a patient, usually placed in the radial or femoral artery, though they can be put in any major artery depending on the needs of the individual patient and the nature of that patient's injuries. These lines must not be used for delivery of medications due to a very high risk of tissue damage by such medications as sodium pentothal. Despite this restriction on their use, these arterial lines are often placed in critical care and intensive care patients, as they allow constant monitoring of blood pressure and other vital functions. This constant monitoring is a necessity in a severely injured or ill patient, and the use of these lines is nearly ubiquitous in the intensive care unit at any hospital (C. King et al. 2007). As an extension of this, arterial line sampling is the process of taking a blood sample through the arterial line, rather than through the use of a needle stick method that would be more common outside the intensive care unit. The use of an arterial line provides easier and faster access for taking such blood samples, which can then be used for many types of information gathering techniques as blood gas analysis, toxicology screens, and other tests. Use of an arterial line is safer for both the patient and the caregiver than the use of needles when repeated samples need to be taken, as is often the case in the intensive care unit. It reduces the risk of needle stick injury to the ward staff as well as reducing trauma by the repeated needle stick to the patient (Society of Critical Care Medicine 2008). This type of needle stick trauma is not to be taken lightly, as it can lead to oxygen de-saturation, which is especially common in paediatric and neonatal patients (C. King et al. 2007). Since the patients in the intensive care unit are already, by definition, in critical or severe condition, it is imperative that they are protected from such possible negative effects of what is supposed to be helpful treatment. Arterial line sampling is therefore clearly to their benefit, and with the patient's needs satisfied, hospital policy must now focus on protecting the interests and safety of the hospital staff. As was mentioned previously, the point of arterial line sampling is to collect blood samples for analysis. Whenever blood is being drawn or handled, there is always a high risk of infection from blood-borne pathogens if a nurse or other medical practitioner should come into contact with the fluids. These include