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IV Infiltration Injuries Air Embolism

The introduction and widespread use of central IV lines and other central vascular access devices (CVAD) have undeniably revolutionized medical treatment. However, this technological advancement has also brought about a heightened risk of air embolisms, a potentially life-threatening complication. When air inadvertently enters the venous or arterial systems through these devices, the repercussions can be catastrophic, leading to dire outcomes such as severe brain damage, debilitating stroke or even death. It’s imperative to recognize that instances of nursing negligence, doctor negligence or hospital negligence can significantly contribute to the occurrence of such devastating injuries caused by IV air embolisms. 

Burnside Law Firm LLP offers legal advice concerning IV infiltration injury and IV therapy injury cases. Call (706) 432-8320 or contact us by e-mail for an initial investigation of your case.

At Burnside Law Firm LLP, our attorneys are experienced in the investigation of complex medical injury and malpractice cases which can include injury caused by air embolism. Typically, for an air embolism to develop from a central IV line, three factors must be present:

  • You must have an opening of some type into the venous system.
  • The opening in the venous system is typically above the level of the heart.
  • A sufficient amount of air must enter the system.

Nursing Negligence and Air Embolism Injuries

Jugular vein IV lines, due to their direct access to the venous system above the heart, inherently pose a heightened risk for air embolism, making them a critical consideration in medical practice. The placement of IV lines in the jugular vein necessitates a meticulous approach, as any introduction of air into this central circulation can have grave consequences. Therefore, comprehensive education and rigorous adherence to proper nursing techniques are paramount in mitigating the potential formation of air embolisms across all types of IV therapy. Ensuring that healthcare professionals are well-versed in the intricacies of IV line placement, vigilant in monitoring for any signs of air ingress, and adept at swiftly addressing any complications that may arise are essential components of safeguarding patient safety.

Ways in which air can enter the veins or arteries through IV lines:

  • A hole in the catheter or tubing: Sometimes, tubing can become damaged when scissors or other sharp objects are used around a central line. This can allow air to access the line.
  • Improper priming: An air embolism can occur with a peripheral IV as well if the IV tubing is not properly primed or if the IV tubing is primed while it is connected to the patient. Any time air exists in IV tubing and is allowed to enter the vascular system, complications can certainly develop.
  • Improper removal of a central line: Improper removal of an IV line can also lead to an air embolism. When central lines are removed, they create an opening into the vein. Thus, the patient should be quiet and at rest so the intrathoracic pressure does not fluctuate and suck air into the venous system.

Ways to prevent an air embolism include:

  • Removal of a central line: One method for removal of a central line is called a valsalva maneuver which helps prevent air from going into the venous system. By this method, the patient takes a deep breath, bears down and holds the breath while the catheter is removed. This helps stabilize the pressure within the vascular system and prevents air from going in when the line is removed.
  • An air occlusive dressing: Once a central line is removed, a proper dressing must be applied over the opening to prevent air from entering. This includes a gel-based antiseptic applied over the entire catheter exit site and a transparent dressing on top of it. Tape, band aids and gauze are not air occlusive and, when used alone, present a high risk for air embolism. Air occlusive dressing should remain in place until a scab forms over the opening. Diligent inspection before removal of the dressing is also essential to proper medical care.

Heart Failure From IV Errors and Air Embolism

Injuries stemming from air embolism are profound and encompass a spectrum of severe consequences that underscore the criticality of preventative measures. When an air embolism travels to the brain, it can precipitate a stroke, inflicting irreversible damage and potentially altering the course of a person’s life in an instant. Similarly, the migration of air to the heart poses a grave threat, potentially precipitating heart failure and compromising cardiac function. Tragically, the consequences of a substantial air embolism stemming from an IV infiltration often culminate in devastating outcomes such as brain damage, heart attacks, catastrophic strokes or even untimely death. The gravity of these potential outcomes highlights the imperative for stringent protocols, meticulous monitoring, and prompt intervention to mitigate the risk and swiftly address any signs of air embolism in clinical settings.

Immediate Investigation After IV Injury

The existence of an air embolism can sometimes be confirmed by a review of the medical records, especially if a CT scan was performed shortly after symptoms developed. The attorneys at Burnside Law Firm are equipped to investigate injuries involving air embolisms by reviewing medical records, working with experts, and interviewing relevant witnesses in your case.

If you suspect medical negligence, do not hesitate to contact our Augusta or Athens, Georgia, lawyers. We offer experienced, strategic advocacy in cases involving IV injury. Call (706) 432-8320 or contact us by e-mail for an initial consultation.

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2919 Professional Pkwy

Augusta, GA, 30907

Phone: (706) 432-8320


325 North Milledge Avenue

Athens, GA, 30601

Phone: (706) 227-4264

We have recovered tens of millions in settlements and verdicts

The attorneys at Burnside Law Firm LLP have over 30 years of collective experience handling personal injury claims. Over that time, we have helped hundreds of injured people recover the compensation they deserve and need in order to begin putting their lives back together. This list is just a sample of the recoveries we have obtained for some of our clients here and during our time at our former firm, Burnside Wall LLP. Obviously, success in obtaining significant judgments and settlements for other clients is no guarantee of success in your case. Each case must be evaluated and handled based on the individual merits of that particular case. To discuss the facts of your case and learn more about your legal rights, contact one of the personal injury attorneys at Burnside Law Firm LLP for a free initial consultation.

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Meet The Team

Thomas R. Burnside III Personal Injury Attorney

Thomas R Burnside III

Thomas R. Burnside III is a personal injury lawyer who focuses his law practice on the representation of individuals who have suffered injury as a result of automobile collisions, trucking accidents, medical malpractice, work related accidents or other causes. With over 20 years of experience in personal injury law at both the trial and appellate court levels, Attorney Burnside has represented people with brain and head trauma...

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Garon Muller Personal Injury Attorney

Garon Muller

Garon Muller is a trial lawyer who focuses his law practice on the representation of individuals who have been seriously injured or damaged through the negligence or recklessness of others, including automobile collisions, workplace injuries, premises injuries, or defective products. Before beginning his practice in the representation of injured individuals, Mr. Muller served the community as an Assistant District Attorney...

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Robert MacGregor

Robert MacGregor

Robert MacGregor is an experienced trial attorney licensed to practice law in Georgia and South Carolina. At the Burnside Law Firm, Robert devotes his practice to protecting the rights of individuals who have been injured because of someone else’s carelessness, negligence, or recklessness and represents those who have been injured in automobile collisions or tractor-trailer accidents; because of a slip and fall; and in other general negligence actions.

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Ashton Revollo

Ashton is a trial lawyer in Augusta, GA who focuses his law practice on the representation of individuals who have suffered serious injuries or damages due to the negligent or reckless conduct of others, including automobile wrecks, job-related accidents, unsafe premises, or defective
products. Before beginning his practice, Ashton obtained his J.D., at Emory University School of Law, where he gained valuable courtroom experience as an intern assisting the District Attorney for DeKalb
County. After his time at Emory, Ashton received experience as a trial attorney at a respected personal injury firm in Atlanta before moving to Augusta. Over the course of his career, Ashton has assisted deserving clients in recovering millions of dollars in injury cases throughout Georgia.

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In November 2017, I was in a car accident and I decided to seek out legal assistance. I chose to go with Burnside Law Firm, LLP because of their five star rating. My inital consultation was with attorney, Mr. Garon Muller. I knew immediately that I wanted Mr. Muller to take my case. His professionalism and expertise in personal injury made my decision easy. Mr. Muller maintained his professionalism throughout my case. He kept me updated on a regular basis via telephone or email. He was always available to me when I call. I did not have to wait 24 hours to get a call back from him. I would greatly recommend Mr. Muller and the Burnside Law Firm, LLP.

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Garon Muller with Burnside Law Firm makes client satisfaction his priority. Mr. Muller made sure that I had a lucid understanding during every discussion. He never made a decision without my input and made me feel like we were partners. Garon Muller was very professional and push for the maximum dollar amount from the insurance company. Me and my family considered ourselves blessed to have been represented by Garon Muller with Burnside Law Firm. We highly recommend Garon Muller and Burnside Law Firm! Burnside Law Firm staff are exceptional and exceeded our expectations.

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    2919 Professional Pkwy

    Augusta, GA, 30907

    Phone: (706) 432-8320


    325 North Milledge Avenue

    Athens, GA, 30601

    Phone: (706) 227-4264