Your most frequently asked IV questions, answered.

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“How does IV therapy work?”

Intravenous (IV) therapy is the delivery of fluids, blood, or medication directly into a patient’s system through the veins. The main advantage of IV treatments is the ability to quickly introduce these fluids into the body.

“What is IV therapy used for?”

Four out of five U.S. hospital patients receive an IV, making it one of the most commonly used treatments. It can be effective for a number of conditions including:

  • Dehydration
  • Pain management
  • Blood transfusions
  • Cancer treatments like chemotherapy

“Is it safe?”

Eighty percent (80%) of admitted U.S. hospital patients receive an IV, yet the current failure rate is 50%. Although it is considered a routine procedure, like any medical procedure there are risks involved. Patients should talk to their medical team to make sure they are being monitored for possible complications like infiltration, phlebitis and infection.

“Does it hurt?”

One out of every four Americans has a fear of needles and everyone’s tolerance to pain is different, but most patients barely feel the placement of a standard IV. Some healthcare providers will pre-treat the skin with a very cold spray to numb the area and minimize discomfort.

“Are there any complications?”

Minor complications include mild discomfort, bruising, redness, itching, inflammation, and redness at or around the IV’s site. More serious complications include infiltrations, phlebitis, and infection. Symptoms to look out for include severe inflammation (swelling), blistering, or a significant amount of pain near or around the IV placement site.

“What if I think something is wrong with my IV?”

If you experience symptoms such as pain, swelling and/or redness, alert your medical team right away as these can be signs of more dangerous complications.

“Who administers the IV?”

Normally, Registered Nurses (RNs) administer a patient’s IV treatment.

“How often do I need it?”

This depends on the type of treatment you’re receiving and the type of IV being used. It also may differ based on the hospital protocol where you are receiving treatment.

“What are the different types of IVs?”

Peripheral IVs (Peripheral Venous Catheters), otherwise known as Standard Lines, are most often given to surgical or emergency room patients and aren’t typically left in for more than four days.

Central Lines (Central Venous Catheters) are more invasive, leading directly into the heart and can be left in for several weeks/months.

Midline Catheters are a less invasive method than the Central Line for delivering contents or drawing blood samples. They can be left in the patient for more than five days but less than a month.¹

“I still have more IV questions. Where can I learn more information?”

For answers to your IV questions, is the resource to empower and inform patients and caregivers on IVs and IV therapy. We bring you current information from trusted healthcare experts, so you have one less thing to worry about.

¹When to use a midline catheter: Nursing2017

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