The human body is made up of roughly 70 percent water, so much of the system depends on the movement of fluids through the body. When the concentration of water in the body, and in particular within the cells that make up the body, is compromised, it can be more difficult to keep the organs and system working properly.
One of the primary uses of an IV is to administer fluids to a patient. This may become necessary if a patient is extremely dehydrated or is unable to consume liquids because he or she is unconscious. When a patient is given too much liquid, he or she can become severely injured, even permanently, resulting in organ failure or wrongful death.
Case example: A 7-year-old child with new onset diabetes was admitted to a medical facility for diabetic ketoacidosis. An IV was started in her hand for the administration of fluids (IV saline) to treat dehydration. During the rehydration process the patient developed puffy eyelids, elevated blood pressure, headaches and shortness of breath. Swelling in and around the brain ultimately resulted in permanent brain damage due to the patient receiving too much fluid in a limited period of time. Proper nursing care, including the adequate assessment and monitoring of the IV therapy and the proper documentation of intake, output and IV flow could have avoided this tragic outcome.
Injury Caused by IV Fluid Overload
Simply stated, fluid or volume overload occurs when fluids are given at a higher rate or in a larger volume than the body can absorb or excrete. People with diabetes or those with other compromised organs, including the kidneys, are more susceptible to fluid overload because their ability to process fluids is impaired. Children are also at a higher risk of fluid overload so they must be carefully monitored to ensure proper intake and output of fluids. Injuries resulting from fluid or volume overload include:
- Heart failure
- Pulmonary edema
- Organ failure
- Kidney failure
- Wrongful death
Symptoms and Warning Signs of Fluid Overload
Nurses and other professionals should be aware of the signs of fluid overload and take adequate precautions to prevent it from occurring, especially when administering fluids to rehydrate children or individuals with compromised renal function. Some common symptoms include:
- Neck vein distension
- Increased blood pressure
- Respiratory distress
- Trending increase in weight
Fluids should be discontinued immediately once symptoms develop. If you suspect that you or your loved one were injured by IV fluid or volume overload as a result of hospital, nursing or physician negligence, contact our law firm. We have extensive experience working on hospital negligence and medical malpractice cases. Our medical experts, including doctors, nurses, and hospital administrators may help us investigate your case, identify the source of any injury, and pursue any legal claims on your behalf.
If you suspect medical negligence, do not hesitate to contact our Augusta, Georgia, lawyers. We offer experienced, strategic advocacy in cases involving fluid or volume overload or other IV injury. Call (706) 432-8320 or contact us by e-mail for an initial consultation.