By: Ryan MacArthur |

Quick read:

IV placement is routine, yet brings potential complications. There are benefits and risks of each type of IV therapy. Peripheral IVs are common, but infiltrations may occur. Central Lines can be placed long-term, but CLABSI is a concern. Midlines are less-invasive, but can mean Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).

Full story:

When a patient receives intravenous (IV) therapy there’s a lot to consider in terms of the benefits and risks associated with the different types of treatment. There are several ways to administer IV therapy, each with its own set of pros and cons. Here’s what you need to know about how IVs work, how they help and what to keep an eye on during the treatment.

IV Overview

IV therapy is a powerful tool that allows caregivers to bypass some of the obstacles presented with delivering medicine or supplements orally by placing the substance directly into a patient’s bloodstream.

  • Simple to administer
  • Can have treatment at home, doctor’s office or hospital
  • Quickly delivers medication or supplements
  • Risk of infection or allergic reaction
  • Risk of complications like bleeding or clotting of the system
  • Potential for scars

Types of IV Therapy:

Peripheral IV Overview

Peripheral IVs (PIVs) are the most common type of IV used for surgery patients, transfusion therapy or emergency care. A caregiver places the catheter into a vein within the arms, hands, legs or feet.

  • Allows quick and easy access to a vein
  • Continuous delivery of medicine, blood or solutions to the patient
  • Easy to monitor and remove
  • Can’t be used indefinitely
  • Risk of infiltration (pictured), infection and bleeding
  • Should be replaced every 72 to 96 hours*
Central Line IV Overview

Healthcare providers use central lines to provide medication or fluids that can’t be taken by mouth or might harm a smaller peripheral vein. These are typically used for long-term care.

  • Can provide chronically ill patients with long-term nutrition
  • Useful for chemotherapy treatments
  • Can be left in the patient for an extended period of time
  • Much more difficult to administer than Peripheral IVs
  • Risk of Central Line Associated Bloodstream Infection (CLABSI)
  • Can cause visible scars
Midline IV Overview

An IV for patients requiring treatment for more than five days, but less than 28.* An option for older adults who may have limited venous access.

  • Less invasive than a central line
  • Can be left in longer than peripheral lines
  • Can be used for blood draws
  • Risk of infection
  • Risk of deep vein thrombosis
  • Must be closely monitored for line migration and leakage

Still unclear on the different types of IVs? Be sure to read The 3 Different Types of IVs for more information.

*This differs from hospital to hospital and is decided based on each hospital’s protocol.






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