BACKGROUND: More than 500,000 cardiac catheterizations are done annually in the United States for both the diagnosis and treatment of patients with coronary artery disease. A femoral artery catheter insertion site is usually used for these procedures, and postprocedure protocols call for prolonged bed rest with restricted patient movement. Time-in-bed standards vary widely, from 3 to 12 hours after cardiac catheterization to more than 24 hours of bed rest after angioplasty. Bed rest with restricted movement causes patient discomfort, increases nursing workload, and prolongs length of hospital stay. OBJECTIVE: To determine if there would be a significant difference in the incidence of bleeding from femoral artery insertion sites between cardiac catheterization patients who remained in bed for 4 hours and those who remained in bed for 6 hours after sheath removal. METHODS: An experimental-control group design was used with a convenience sample (N = 86) of adult patients undergoing diagnostic coronary angiography. Patients were randomly assigned to remain in bed for 4 hours (experimental) or 6 hours (control) after arterial sheath removal. Both groups had pressure dressings and sandbags in place over the insertion site during time in bed. RESULTS: There was no significant difference in the incidence of bleeding related to out-of-bed activity between the groups (chi-square = .31, df = 1). CONCLUSIONS: Requisite time in bed after cardiac catheterization can be safely decreased from 6 to 4 hours. This change has implications for enhancing patient comfort and decreasing both length of hospital stay and healthcare costs.

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