An IV infiltration or extravasation injury to a child while in a hospital can be devastating. When you place your infant in the care of a medical professional, you trust that every precaution will be taken to ensure your child’s safety. Medical injuries to children can be severe, and sometimes fatal.
If you believe that your infant suffered as a result of medical negligence, please contact Burnside Law Firm LLP to consult with an attorney and learn more about your child’s legal rights.
When it comes to IV therapy, hospitals and medical professionals have a duty to follow certain standards of care to protect patients, especially infants, from IV infiltration and extravasation injuries. These standards of care include:
- Following proper procedures for IV placement
- Following proper procedures for IV insertion
- Frequent monitoring and assessment of IV site
- Apply transparent dressing over IV site
- Proper securing of IV catheter to extremity
- Diligence in checking IV site for coolness, swelling, or color change
- Ensure proper function (infusion or flow) of IV fluids
- Checking for signs of infiltration
Case example: A 9-month old infant was admitted to the hospital with congestion and flu-like symptoms and an intravenous line placed in her hand. Twelve hours later, her left hand and forearm were swollen with edema and she was unable to move her fingers and hand due to pain. She was diagnosed with compartment syndrome and ultimately required skin grafting on her hand and a fasciotomy incision from her wrist to her elbow to restore adequate blood flow and avoid amputation. The injury was due to the duty nurse’s failure to assess the IV site over an 8-12 hour period of time. If the nurse had followed the standard of care and provide hourly assessments of pediatric IV sites, these injuries would have been prevented entirely.
IV Infiltration and Infant IV Burns
IV infiltration and extravasation injuries to children can be more severe and harder to detect than injuries to adults. Children are not as alert to problems and cannot express pain or irritation the same as an adult. Often they cry because the IV hurts but the medical staff attributes their crying to something else and fails to check the IV site. As a result, IV infiltration or extravasation can go undetected for a longer period of time if timely assessment of the IV site is not performed. The longer harmful fluids are allowed to infiltrate into the tissues surrounding the IV site rather than the bloodstream, the worse the injury can become.
Pediatric hospitals, neonatal care units and other medical facilities measure the severity of IV infiltration injuries on a common scale of 0 to 4.
- 0 = No symptoms
- 1 = Skin blanched, edema < 1 inch in any direction, cool to touch, with or without pain
- 2 = Skin blanched, edema 1 to 6 inches in any direction, cool to touch, with or without pain
- 3 = Skin blanched, translucent; gross edema > 6 inches in any direction; cool to touch; mild to moderate pain; possible numbness
- 4 = Skin blanched, translucent; skin tight, leaking; skin discolored, bruised, swollen; gross edema > 6 inches in any direction; deep pitting tissue edema; circulatory impairment; moderate to severe pain; infiltration of any amount of blood product, irritant or vesicant
Scale 4 infiltration injuries are the most severe and can result in severe burns, skin grafts, nerve damage, long term scarring, disability and even loss of the affected limb.
Do You Suspect IV Negligence?
Without medical training or experience, it is difficult to assess the care surrounding an IV infiltration injury and determine if a breach of the standard of care occurred. Our attorneys are able to review the evidence and medical documentation, and consult with witnesses and experts in an effort to evaluate your case. We will use our medico-legal knowledge to determine whether you have a cause of action against a negligent doctor, nurse, or hospital, and advise you of your rights and provide straightforward information about how best to proceed.
If you suspect medical negligence, do not hesitate to contact our Augusta, Georgia, legal team. Our lawyers offer experienced, strategic advocacy in cases involving IV infiltration injury and IV extravasation injury to children. Call 800-(706) 432-8320 or contact us by e-mail for an initial consultation.