If you or a family member has been in the hospital, you are probably familiar with an IV, which is the short way of saying intravenous therapy. IVs are used in a variety of medical settings to infuse liquids into a person’s vein. IVs are used for blood, medication, saline solution, and other liquids.

How Does Intravenous Therapy Work?

Some fluids and medications are only given by IV. IVs are also useful in infusing large amounts of liquids or infusing liquids quickly. The process is a standard procedure used hundreds of times a day in hospitals and medical facilities. 

A nurse, doctor, or other health care provider inserts a needle into a patient’s vein. They then slip a plastic catheter over the needle and into the vehicle. The needle is gently extracted, leaving the plastic catheter in the vein.

The catheter connects to a small plastic tube. The liquid travels through the plastic tube into the patient’s vein through the catheter. A machine controls the flow of the liquid. 

Even though IVs are common in medical settings, numerous complications can occur with intravenous therapy. IV infiltration is just one of the complications that can occur when using an IV.

What is IV Infiltration? 

IV infiltration or intravenous infiltration is an IV complication that occurs when the liquid from the IV does not enter the vein. Instead, the liquid enters the tissue surrounding the vein. When liquid leaks into the tissues surrounding a vein, a patient can experience several adverse effects.

The adverse effects of IV infiltration can range from mild discomfort to life-threatening conditions. 

Some signs of IV infiltration include:

  • Wet bandages
  • Liquid leaking from around the IV location
  • Skin that is swollen or red around the IV location
  • Pain and burning sensations 
  • Stretched or taut skin
  • IV infusions that have stopped or slowed down

As soon as a patient exhibits signs of IV infiltration, health care providers need to take immediate action to treat the condition. In addition to removing and relocating the IV, nurses and doctors need to watch for adverse reactions and complications caused by the IV infiltration.

Adverse Effects of Intravenous Infiltration

Some patients may only experience mild discomfort and swelling from an IV infiltration. The swelling and pain go away once the doctor or nurse removes the IV and relocates it to another place. 

However, some patients can suffer from long-term conditions or impairments because of an IV infiltration. Some adverse effects of IV infiltration include:

  • Severe scarring
  • Permanent nerve damage
  • The patient does not receive the required dosage of medicine
  • Blisters, sores, ulcers, and other skin damage
  • Reduced use of the affected limb
  • Amputation of the affected limb

Immediate treatment can reduce the risk of permanent impairment or disability because of IV infiltration. However, if the medical staff does not monitor the IV or fails to provide the correct treatment, the risk of injury increases.

Causes of IV Infiltration in Medical Facilities 

Some of the reasons for IV infiltration are not within the control of the medical staff. A patient’s vein could collapse, or the patient could move the IV or do something to cause the IV to puncture the vein. 

However, IV infiltrations can be caused by medical negligence and errors. Some of the causes of IV infiltration include:

  • Improper insertion of the IV catheter or needle
  • Repeated attempts to insert an IV into the same vein
  • Using the incorrect size of catheter or needle for the patient
  • Failing to inspect the IV before insertion
  • Inserting the IV at a location that could cause friction because of movement
  • Failing to monitor the IV after insertion 
  • Setting the flow of the IV too high

In some cases, the IV catheter, needle, or other supplies could be defective or malfunction. All equipment should be inspected to ensure that it is not damaged before the procedure begins.

Filing a Personal Injury Claim for Damages Caused by Intravenous Infiltration 

If a doctor, nurse, or other health care provider was negligent in causing an IV infiltration, you might be entitled to compensation for any damages caused by the IV infiltration. If a defective medical device caused the IV infiltration, the manufacturer could be liable under product liability laws. The types of damages and the amount of compensation would depend on the facts and circumstances of your case. 

The Texas statute of limitations sets deadlines for filing a personal injury lawsuit related to medical malpractice or product liability claims. Waiting too long to consult a personal injury attorney about an injury claim could result in losing your right to seek compensation from the party who caused your injury.