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Venepuncture and cannulation: Equipment selection

CPD Hours



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Clinical practice and procedures


The appropriate selection of the right needle and cannula for venepuncture and cannulation are essential in promoting patient comfort and safety. The type of equipment selected will depend on a number of factors including the age of the patient, the conditions and size of the veins, the degree of cardiovascular stability, and the intended use.

Selection can be difficult. Larger gauge peripheral intravenous catheters (PIVCs) for example, have been observed to have a lower rate of occlusion. Longer PIVCs have been observed to have a decreased incidence of infiltration and extravasation. However larger gauge and longer PIVCs have been observed to increase the risk of phlebitis. Consideration of the intended use is recommended.

This module is one of a series of 5 on venepuncture and cannulation. The 5 modules are:

  1. Indications and vein selection
  2. Equipment selection
  3. Special considerations for paediatrics and neonates
  4. Venepuncture - A step-by-step procedural guide
  5. Cannulation - A step-by-step procedural guide

If you have not done so already, we recommend completing ‘Indications and vein selection’ before undertaking this module.


Prior to undertaking venepuncture and cannulation, nurses and midwives should check local policies and access the appropriate practical training and competency assessments. Only those deemed competent should perform venepuncture or cannulation.

Learning Objective

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

  • Identify needles used for venepuncture and intravenous cannulation.
  • Describe the benefits of safety engineered medical devices.
  • Understand the different sizes of needles that may be used (length and gauge).
  • List indications for large and small gauge needles.
  • Outline the equipment required to undertake venepuncture.
  • Outline the equipment required to undertake intravenous cannulation.

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