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What is IV Infiltration and Extravasation?

Nearly 80% of all U.S. hospital patients receive an IV, with a current failure rate of 50%. Almost a quarter of these IV failures are due to infiltrations. An infiltration occurs when fluid or medication leaks into the tissue surrounding the vein. Patients may see swelling and the skin will feel cool, firm, and may also be pale.

An extravasation occurs when potentially-damaging medications, known as vesicants, leak into the tissue around the site of the infusion. Vesicants like chemotherapy drugs can cause serious injury, pain at the IV site, and permanent harm such as the destruction of tissue. Patients may see swelling and the skin will feel cool, firm, and may also be pale.