IV infiltration can cause nerve damage, burns or amputation of a limb
An IV or intravenous catheter is inserted into a vein to administer fluids, electrolytes, medications, blood products, antibiotics, lipids, or nutrition directly into the bloodstream. If the catheter becomes dislodged or moves out of the vein, the fluid that was being infused through it could now leak into surrounding tissue. When that occurs, it is called an IV infiltration.
An IV line can cause an infiltration without a nurse or doctor being negligent. The catheter might have been inserted in the wrist or elbow area and the natural bending or movement of the limb could cause the catheter to move or migrate. Sometimes IV tubing can get caught on a blanket or bed side rail and cause the IV to fall out of the vein. However, because it is easy for an IV to move out of a vein, it is the responsibility of a nurse to frequently check the IV site to make sure the catheter is still in the correct place.
If an IV infiltrates, it should be recognized as soon as possible to prevent traumatic or permanent injuries to an arm, leg, hand or scalp. Once an IV infiltration is discovered, the fluids that are infusing must be stopped immediately. If the fluids are not discontinued, they could continue to seep into the tissue surrounding the vein, leading to swelling of the area. If too much fluid is allowed to leak into an area, it can lead to compartment syndrome with nerve, tissue or muscle damage. Some medications or fluids can be very irritating to the tissues, and an infiltration can lead to blisters, burns, necrotic, or dead, tissue or even amputation.
When an IV infiltrates, it also means that a patient is not receiving any medication prescribed, and that can lead to additional complications or ineffective treatment of an infection, electrolyte imbalance, shock, irregular heartbeat or other critical condition.
If you or a loved one developed an IV infiltration that went untreated and caused a permanent injury, you may want to find an experienced medical malpractice lawyer in Philadelphia or law firm that concentrates on helping people who were injured while in a hospital for more information.