Most people know what an IV is and what IVs are used in hospitals and other medical facilities. An IV is short for intravenous (IV) therapy. IVs are used for infusing liquid directly into a person’s vein.

IV therapy is used when a patient needs medicine, blood, or other fluids. Infusing the medication or liquid directly into the vein is quicker than giving a patient oral medication or liquids. 

IVs are also the best way to infuse large amounts of medication or liquids. In certain cases, intravenous therapy is the only way to infuse some liquids.

The process for inserting an IV is to use a needle to enter the vein. The health care provider slips a plastic catheter over the needle into the vein. The needle is removed, leaving the catheter in the vein.

Unfortunately, several things can go wrong when using IVs. Complications, errors, or negligence involving intravenous therapy can result in life-threatening conditions or permanent impairments. A common complication when using an IV is IV infiltration. 

What is Intravenous Infiltration?

Intravenous infiltration or IV infiltration occurs when the liquid from the IV leaks into the surrounding tissue instead of going directly into the vein. The complications and adverse effects of IV infiltration can be dangerous and painful for the patient. 

Signs of IV infiltration may include:

  • Swelling and discomfort around the IV location
  • Burning and redness surrounding the IV location 
  • Taut or stretched skin
  • Bandages that are wet or leaking fluid
  • IV infusions that are slow or stopped

Doctors, nurses, and other health care providers must watch for symptoms of an IV infiltration. If the patient does not receive the proper medical treatment, the risk of severe complications increases.

Potential Complications from IV Infiltration 

The adverse effects of an IV infiltration can range from mild discomfort to permanent impairments. Examples of potential complications from an IV infiltration can include:

  • Permanent nerve damage
  • Ulcers, scars, sores, blisters, and other skin damage
  • A patient does not receive the correct dosage of medication
  • Severe scarring 
  • Amputation of the affected limb
  • Reduced use of the affected limb

The type and severity of the damage dictate the treatment. If the patient experiences swelling and mild discomfort, a nurse or doctor can relocate the IV. The swelling generally goes away, and the patient might not experience any lasting effects from the IV infiltration.

However, if the medical staff does not notice the IV infiltration or does not correctly treat the IV infiltration and complications, the patient could sustain permanent impairments.

How Does an Intravenous Infiltration Happen?

There are many reasons why a patient might experience IV infiltration. Some reasons are due to medical negligence or errors. Other reasons might be due to unforeseen circumstances.

Some potential reasons for an IV infiltration are:

  • Damaged or defective IV catheters
  • Using the wrong size catheter for the IV
  • Setting the IV flow rate too high
  • Improper insertion of the IV needle or catheter
  • Failing to monitor the IV after insertion
  • Repeated attempts to insert the IV, which can damage the surrounding tissue and the vein
  • Inserting the IV at a point where friction or movement could cause the catheter to move or dislodge

Health care providers can minimize the risk of IV infiltration by inspecting the equipment before beginning the procedure. Ensuring that the correct equipment is used and monitoring the IV after insertion also reduces the risk of IV infiltration. 

If a health care provider cannot “get a vein” (insert the IV successfully), another health care provider should attempt the procedure to reduce the risk of harm to the patient. 

Filing a Medical Malpractice or Product Liability Claim for IV Infiltration 

When medical negligence or errors harm the patient, the patient may have a medical malpractice claim. The patient could receive compensation for pain, permanent impairments, lost income, medical bills, and other damages. 

Likewise, if an IV was defective, the patient could have a claim against the manufacturer of the medical device. A product liability claim  could also result in compensation for a variety of damages. 

Product liability and medical malpractice claims are complicated personal injury cases. You must prove that the party owed you a duty of care and breached the duty of care. You must then prove that the breach of care caused your injury, and you sustained damages because of your injury.

Both causes of action also have strict deadlines for filing claims. You lose your right to file a personal injury lawsuit if you do not file a lawsuit before the deadline set by the Oklahoma statute of limitations. 

Discussing your IV infiltration injury with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible can help protect your right to recover fair compensation for your injuries, financial losses, and other damages.