Is venepuncture in the ipsilateral arm safe?
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Is venepuncture in the ipsilateral arm safe?

Elaine Lennan Nurse consultant, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust
Alison Richardson Clinical professor in cancer nursing and end of life care, University of Southampton and University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust

Elaine Lennan and Alison Richardson review advice on the safety of venepuncture and cannulation in the ipsilateral arm before chemotherapy

Surgical advances in the treatment of breast cancer have significantly reduced patient morbidity; however, lymphoedema of the ipsilateral arm remains a concern. At the authors’ centre there was consensus that using the ipsilateral arm for venepuncture and cannulation was safe, but also concern that patient information was confusing.

The aim of this project was to understand the variation, if any, in advice published on patient information websites and determine the consistency and strength of the message in relation to avoiding the ipsilateral arm for venepuncture and cannulation.

A review of 17 patient information websites was undertaken to understand scope, depth, accuracy and inconsistencies of information provided.

In the surgical and radiotherapy sections of websites no information was found about the use of the ipsilateral arm for venepuncture and cannulation. In sections on chemotherapy and lymphoedema, information was scant and differed in strength of message. Inconsistent information was provided about using the ipsilateral arm for cannulation and venepuncture, potentially due to a lack of evidence concerning best practice. In response to these findings the authors’ centre is producing a leaflet that addresses the use of the ipsilateral arm for venepuncture and cannulation.

Cancer Nursing Practice. 14, 8, 14-20. doi: 10.7748/cnp.14.8.14.s20

Correspondence

elaine.lennan@uhs.nhs.uk

Peer review

This article has been subject to double-blind review and has been checked using antiplagiarism software

Conflict of interest

None declared

Received: 30 June 2015

Accepted: 07 August 2015

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