While doing a clinical shift in the ER the other day, a nurse brought down a pt with an IV catheter broken off in his vein. Apparently as she was removing the needle part, the end (where you attach the line), broke off. This of course left the cath part free to travel in the vein. She immediatly put the tourniquet back on the pts arm And brought them to the ER. There we called the surgeon on call who came right away. A quick x-ray was taken and the surgeon cut into the pts arm (forearm proximal to the wrist), clamped and cut the vein and retrieved the catheter. Then stitched the pts arm back together. Has anyone ever heard of this happening before? I know when you think of it, it is possible. But how often does it really happen?