It’s one of the first procedures you learned in nursing school and, for many nurses working in a hospital environment, it can be one of the most common tasks you perform each day. IV starts have become so routine, you could probably do them in your sleep—though it’s likely frowned upon in most institutions. When it comes to starting IVs, you’re a seasoned pro.
However, while IV procedures are commonplace for most nurses, they’re often a source of stress and anxiety for your patients. Even for those without needle phobia, being stuck with a needle and connected to an IV tube can be a frightening experience. Not to mention, patient anxiety has a tendency to stress even the most calm and collected professionals.
There is a solution, though. Here are a few reasons why you should consider adding topical anesthetics to your institution’s IV kits:
Decreased Patient Anxiety
Hospitals, clinics and doctor offices can be emotional environments. From fear and anxiety to excitement and relief, experiences within healthcare institutions run the gamut. It’s no surprise, then, many patients arrive for procedures already a ball of nerves. If the appointment was planned, they’ve likely spent time mulling over possible outcomes and stressing every detail.
Whether your patient is receiving intravenous anesthesia in preparation for surgery, a blood transfusion or another procedure, anxiety has the ability to make any experience much more difficult. While applying a topical anesthetic can seem an insignificant step—especially before major surgery—it can offer a great deal of comfort. Knowing your nurse is taking the time and effort to reduce pain from the beginning can help patients feel more relaxed about the remainder of their visit.
In many cases, all it takes to put a patient at ease is to take his mind off the issue at hand. As a nurse, you likely use distraction tactics all the time. A few moments of small talk and light conversation helps patients of any age forget their concerns—even if it’s only a temporary solution.
A topical anesthetic can be an effective method of distraction. Firstly, it’s a conversation piece. If the patient hasn’t experienced the product before, it allows you the opportunity to explain how it works and why it’s being used. Additionally, the patient may become so distracted by the sensation of the product, any anxiety or concerns about the IV will become secondary.
Increased Patient Satisfaction
From HCAHPS and hospital reimbursement concerns to online reviews and word-of-mouth referrals, ensuring your patients have the best experience possible has never been so important. While many healthcare institutions have put processes in place to improve patient satisfaction, sometimes all your patient wants is an additional moment of TLC.
Most patients are aware applying a topical anesthetic is not necessarily required for an IV start. By making it part of your routine, though, it proves you care about their level of comfort. In addition to higher HCAHPS scores and more positive online reviews, improving the patient experience can improve your experience, as well.
In other words, even the smallest measures can leave a memorable impact on your patients. By using a topical anesthetic as a part of your IV start routine, you can help decrease anxiety, improve satisfaction and help you get your patients’ mind off the IV start.
Interested in adding a topical anesthetic to your IV kits? Learn about your options with our free Topical Anesthetics Comparison Chart.