An insight into difficult intravenous access from different perspectives

Inserting a needle into a vein, be it for IV cannulation (i.e. when the patient needs drugs, hydration or blood products) or for blood sampling (phlebotomy), are the most common invasive medical procedures performed worldwide.

Every attempt at cannulation (needle stick) increases the risk of infection to the patient, resulting in increased stress and a traumatic experience for both patient and practitioner. Watch the videos below to learn more about experiences of intravenous access from different perspectives:

Watch the videos below to learn more about experiences of intravenous access from different perspectives



Introducing a needle into the vein is the most common performed invasive medical procedure (cannulation) worldwide:

  • 30m cannulations  performed in the NHS UK per year.

  • Up to 30% of these procedures fail first time, 50% for children.


Every attempt at cannulation increases the risk of infection to patient:

  • Traumatic experience.

  • Increased stress and anxiety for patient and practitioner.


One cannulation attempt costs £32.61 per patient:

  • After 2 failed attempts a doctor must be called.

  • Wasting patient and practitioner time.

  • High wastage cost to NHS & Healthcare providers.

The current scenario would involve a healthcare professional trying to cannulate a vein, most often without anaesthetic. This process may need to be repeated a number of times, for patients who have poor veins / no visible veins. This causes pain and trauma to both the patient and the healthcare professional.  It is general practise that if a patient has received 2 failed attempts a senior healthcare professional is called to assess and carry out subsequent attempts.


Patient Feedback on difficult cannulation:


"I am a retired medical practitioner who has Myelodysplastic syndrome. I have experienced problems with cannulation for the past two years because I need blood transfusions every month (the record for failures is seven attempts!!" lan, Bedfordshire​


It is well known that success rate in first attempt cannula insertion is lower with some patients such as the elderly, children, obese and darker skinned patient groups.

To address these issues, Olberon has designed the Vacuderm™ ( See 'how to' animation here), a single patient disposable tourniquet that allows the practitioner to improve his/her success rate in the first attempt in venous access.