IV infiltration occurs when the intravenous catheter begins to leak medication or other fluid into surrounding tissue. This can happen if the needle is dislodged through patient movement, or if the IV was improperly set in the first place, or if the vein used for the catheter was too small or damaged to manage the fluid. Symptoms include peripheral swelling around the injection site.
Preventing IV infiltration is important. Though the side effects in the injection site are often easily treated if caught quickly, the medication that should have been treating the disease the patient suffered from has instead spilled into tissue. Because the medication was not properly administered, the patient may suffer severe long-term health consequences, including death.
If the IV infiltration is not quickly recognized and dealt with, the side effects of the leaking fluid or medication can be more severe. Tissue damage may occur, particularly if swelling persists for long periods of time. Regular checks of the IV are key for managing this potential issue, and proper training of medical professionals on how to start an IV is also significant.
Unfortunately, medical professionals are still failing in the basic task of starting and managing an IV, and IV infiltration continues to occur. Recognizing the failure of hospitals to manage the situation, many medical device manufacturers have begun to develop machines to monitor IVs for signs of infiltration, with over a half-dozen devices currently on the verge of production.
If you or someone you love has suffered due to IV infiltration or another preventable medical error, please consider reaching out to a qualified attorney. Though major changes may be on the horizon to manage these situations with machines, too many patients are suffering in the meantime, and holding hospitals accountable for their mistakes is the only way to force change.