Paula Schulte was admitted to the hospital because of unexpected seizures. She received potassium chloride through an IV on her first night in the hospital. A nurse later noted an IV infiltration and notified the doctor, yet her IV wasn’t immediately removed.
Her family described her arm as swollen to “three times its normal size, blackened and taut like a balloon about to burst.” They were told infiltration happens and is treatable. Schulte lost blood flow in her arm; the infiltration had progressed to compartment syndrome, requiring surgery to drain a liter of fluid.
Now Schulte was unresponsive. The infiltration became such a priority that the neurological symptoms she was originally admitted for had become secondary. Two days after being admitted, she still hadn’t seen a neurologist.
Read the rest of the IV infiltration story on ProPublica.
Learn how to recognize the symptoms of IV failure including IV infiltration here.