The history of wide spread IV use is relatively brief. Until about 1950, almost all IV catheters were made out of inflexible metal which made them difficult to manage. By the 1970s, the development of substances like plastic, Teflon and polyurethane led to the advent of flexible IV catheters, which were much easier to insert and manage. As a result, the task of placing an IV generally shifted from physicians to nurses, which led to the founding of the Intravenous Nursing Society in approximately 1973.
Since its inception, IV therapy has made significant progress, due in large measure to the advent of soft plastic catheters, which are easier to insert and more flexible. Common uses for IVs include:
- Delivery of fluids to the body
- Administration of medications
- Administration of anesthesia
- Intravascular access
Anyone who has been a patient or visited a hospital has seen an IV. They are used so extensively in medical care that we take them for granted and may forget the potential danger they pose to patients if not managed properly. In light of these risks, IV therapy requires diligence by the medical practitioners responsible for obtaining and maintaining IV access.
Benefits of IV Therapy
One of the many benefits of IV access is the quick and easy administration of fluids and medications to very ill patients. Some of the medications they need are too toxic and painful to administer by shots and far too caustic to consume orally. Employing IV therapy allows doctors to deliver needed fluids or medication to the blood stream and avoid painful shots. It also allows for long-term intravenous access to hospitalized patients and more control over the flow and dosage by which the medication is delivered. This is particularly true when an IV is paired with an infusion pump which allows patients to receive medication over time in the comfort and safety of their own home.
Causes Of IV Infiltration and Extravasation
IV infiltration occurs when the infusing medication or fluid leaks outside of the vein into the tissue surrounding the IV site. Causes of IV infiltration can include:
- IV catheter backing out of the vein
- Damage to the vein wall allowing it to swell or rupture
- Improperly securing the catheter to the body
- Puncture through the vein wall
- Aggressive flushing of the IV
- Clot formation causing pressure buildup
- Infusion pump malfunction
IV Infiltration Injuries in Children
Children can get dehydrated very quickly, especially when battling a stomach bug or nausea. To prevent serious damage or injury from extended dehydration, doctors will typically start an IV and administer fluids and possibly anti-nausea medications while the child rehydrates. IV infiltration can occur under these circumstances and result in serious injury if the medical staff does not give the IV site proper attention. When we represent children, we are mindful of the fact that the consequences of injury may last long after the case is concluded. Therefore, we often work with parents in seeking a structured recovery so their child is cared for now and into the future, including medical expenses, future surgery and in-home care.
Intravascular Access Methods and Types of IV Lines
- Peripheral IV Lines — A peripheral IV line is inserted into a peripheral vein on an extremity, like the hands or the feet, and is usually changed approximately every 72 hours to avoid infection.
- Central IV Lines — Central IV lines, or catheters provide direct access to larger vessels, usually in the chest area.
- PICC (Peripherally inserted central catheters) — PICC lines travel from smaller peripheral vessels to larger vessels providing indirect access to larger vessels, usually in the chest area.
- Port-a-catch — A central venous line that does not have an external connector and which allows for the injection of medications directly into a central line.
There is significantly more blood flow in the large vessels accessed by central IV and PICC lines, creating a number of benefits to their use. The larger lines have double or triple lumen so you can administer multiple medications even if they are not chemically compatible. Central IV lines can remain in place much longer than peripheral IV and are often used in chemotherapy and for long-term IV therapy.
If you suspect medical negligence, do not hesitate to contact our Augusta, Georgia, lawyer. We offer experienced, strategic advocacy in cases involving IV infiltration and IV injury. Call (706) 432-8320 or contact us by e-mail for an initial consultation.