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Central venous access devices: The nurse's role

CPD Hours



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Clinical practice and procedures


Central venous access devices (often referred to as CVADs or central venous catheters, CVCs) are invasive devices used in hospital and community healthcare settings to deliver fluids, medication and parenteral nutrition, support frequent blood sampling and allow for the monitoring of central venous pressure.

CVADs may be preferred to peripheral intravenous catheters as they provide direct access to the large vessels in the central venous system, offer multiple larger lumens, are safe to be used at home, and can be used in the short- or long-term. Despite their advantages, CVADs have a number of complications.

Nurses must understand the general principles of CVADs, and best practice maintenance of CVAD maintenance to prevent complications and optimise outcomes for patients with CVADs.

Learning Objective

At the end of this module participants will be able to:

  • Understand what central venous access devices (CVADs) are and indications for their use.
  • Know the different types of CVADs used to administer intravenous medications.
  • Identify the risks and complications associated with the use of CVADs.
  • Identify best practice nursing recommendations when caring for a patient with a CVAD.

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