IV infiltration is a dangerous condition that occurs when the medication or fluid that should be distributed into the vein instead spills into surrounding tissue due to nursing error or patient movement causing the catheter to be dislodged. When this occurs, the medication that should be treating a disease or the fluid that should be preventing dehydration is instead wasted.
Though in many cases caused by improper medical techniques, the most important factor when IV infiltration occurs is not determining what went wrong. Those determinations can be made later. The most important thing is prompt treatment to minimize long-term health problems, including tissue death.
Treatment of the infiltration itself is usually fairly easy, and consists of the following options and steps:
- Discontinuing the IV
- Elevating the limb to begin to counteract the swelling
- Restarting the IV in a different limb
- Increased attention to the initial injection site
There are two primary concerns when IV infiltration has occurred. The first is preventing the swelling from continuing or even worsening, which can cause pressure to build in the area, resulting in major problems for the patient. This can be an emergent situation and must be dealt with promptly.
The second is insuring that whatever medication or fluid the IV was supposed to deliver is still administered to the patient. IV infiltration is an important problem, but it does not replace the initial concern, which is often significant to have required an IV in the first place.
If you or someone you love has suffered after medical error when performing or managing an IV, it is important to hold the medical provider accountable for their actions. IV infiltration is almost always preventable, and allowing these types of mistakes to continue will put others at risk. Please reach out to an experienced lawyer about your case.