Additional potential complications are associated with invasive treatment methods. For example, invasive treatments carry a risk of:

  1. Needle-stick injury:

    Nurses are at risk of needle-stick injury when an invasive treatment method is used.1 According to a Royal College of Nurses survey:1
    • 48% of nurses have experienced a needle-stick injury at some point in their career.
    • 52% of nurses say that they fear needle-stick injury either "a fair amount" or "a great deal".
    If invasive delivery methods cannot be avoided, staff training and safety devices can reduce the risk of needle-stick injury.1


  1. Neurological complications:

    Epidural analgesia and nerve blocks both carry a small risk of neurological complications. 2.8% of the patients suffer severe neurological complications per 10,000 epidural blockades2, while 2.8 % suffer serious neurological injuries per 10,000 peripheral nerve blocks.3


  1. Infection

    Catheter-related bloodstream infections are caused by staphylococcus aureus, enterococci, candida spp., etc.4 The risk of infection increases with the number of days that a catheter is in place – attention should therefore be paid to the length of time that a catheter is in place.5


CRBSI incidence in Europe


  1. Other catheter-related issues

    In addition to infection, there are a number of other potential catheter-related complications, for example, phlebitis, an inflammation of a vein that occurs in about 10% of patients with PCA.7 Furthermore, diffusion of IV fluid into surrounding tissue (IV infiltration) can occur in about 3% of patients with PCA.8

In order to avoid any complications, a non-invasive method should be considered for post-operative pain management.



1 Royal College of Nursing. Needlestick Injury in 2008. Available at: Accessed 10th July 2015.
2 Moen V, Dahlgren N and Irestedt. Anesthesiology. 2004; 101: 950-9.
3 Auroy Y, Benhamou D, Bargues L, et al. Anesthesiology. 2002; 97: 1274-80.
4 O’Grady NP, Alexander M, Burns LA, et al. Clin Infect Dis. 2011; 52: e162-93.
5 Lundgren A et al. The care and handling of peripheral intravenous cannulae on 60 surgery and internal medicine patients: an observation study. J Adv Nurs. 1993; 18: 963-71.
6 Tacconelli E, Smith G, Hieke J, et al. J Hosp Infect. 2009; 72: 97-103.
7 Salgueiro-Oliveira A, Veiga P and Parreira P. Aust J Adv Nurs. 2013; 30: 32-9.
8 Gregg SC, Murthi SB, Sisley AC, et al. J Crit Care. 2010; 25: 514-9.


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