Barriers to ultrasound guidance for central venous access: a survey among Dutch intensivists and anaesthesiologists

Harm J. Scholten*, Esther ten Bloemendal, Bente Botter, Hendrikus H. M. Korsten, R. Arthur Bouwman

*Corresponding author for this work

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Accumulating evidence shows that ultrasound (US) guidance improves effectiveness and safety of central venous catheter (CVC) placement. Several international guidelines therefore recommend the use of US for placement of CVCs. However, surveys show that the landmark-based technique is still widely used, while the percentage of physicians using US is increasing less than expected. The goal of this study was to investigate current practice for central venous catheterization in anaesthesiology and intensive care in the Netherlands, identify barriers for further implementation of US guidance and to evaluate whether personality traits are associated with the choice of technique. We conducted a web-based national survey, distributed among members of the Dutch societies of anaesthesiology (NVA) and intensive care (NVIC). The survey contained questions regarding physician and hospital characteristics, frequency of US use and reasons for use or non-use, as well as the NEO-FFI-3, a validated, translated questionnaire to characterize personality traits according to the 'Big Five' concept. Response rate was 22% (506/2291), of which 400 had also the personality questionnaire complete. Ultrasound guidance was used always or almost always in 68%; barriers for US use were working in a non-academic non-teaching hospital, providing cardiac anaesthesia and more years of physician experience. Reasons for not using US were perceived lack of benefit, increased procedure time, lack of US equipment and fear of loss of landmark technique skills. 13% of respondents had never experienced a complication during CVC placement, and 67% knew of a complication occurring the past year at their department. Ultrasound was thought not to be able to prevent the complication in half of these cases. Of the personality traits, only neuroticism and extraversion showed a minor positive association with US guidance. A majority of anaesthesiologists and intensivists uses US guidance for CVC placement, but a significant proportion of physicians still prefers the landmark technique. Most arguments from respondents against US guidance can be challenged. Personality traits most likely do not play a major role in the acceptance of US guidance for central venous catheterization. A potential intervention to increase US use could be formalizing local hospital policies mandating compliance with US guidance. Future research can perhaps focus on cognitive biases that currently limit more widespread use of US guidance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1023-1031
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Monitoring and Computing
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • Ultrasound
  • Landmark technique
  • Central venous catherization
  • Patient safety
  • Guidelines
  • Survey

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