By: Ryan MacArthur |

When receiving IV therapy, it’s important to keep an eye out for the wide range of complications and issues that can accompany treatment. While taut and swollen skin around the IV site along with pain and bruising may be easy to notice, it’s not always clear what a healthy, normal IV site looks like.

Is My IV Working?

When a healthcare provider places an IV, a flashback of blood entering the chamber confirms they’ve connected with a vein. If the IV fluid isn’t flowing easily, this could mean the catheter is blocked or could have moved outside the vein which may then lead to infiltration.

Be sure to keep an eye on the IV site and the surrounding area for any inflamed or red skin. A normal IV site will not have either of those.

Is My IV Secured and Properly Dressed?

Dislodgement is on the list of culprits that can result in IV failure. If the IV site isn’t properly secured with dressing, the IV can come loose and either puncture or exit the vein. It’s also important to ensure the dressings are clean and dry to prevent contamination and possible infection.

A normal IV site will not be damp, loose, or visibly soiled with blood or fluid. Also, try not to make any sudden or jerky movements to help prevent dislodgement.

Is a Normal IV Site Painful?

A peripheral IV shouldn’t be painful. Though it may feel a little uncomfortable, the majority of discomfort (if any) typically comes from the needle stick itself.

Pain in and around the IV site can be an early symptom of IV failure such as infiltration. Speak up and tell the nurse or doctor if yours is hurting.

Are There Any Signs of Infection?

Though healthcare providers place over 300 million IV’s each year, infection can still occur.

According to Dr. Harshal Shah, an infectious disease specialist, “If a patient has signs of systemic inflammatory response syndrome (low or high temperature, elevated heart rate, elevated respiratory rate, low or high white blood cell count), any invasive device (including the IV) is a possible cause.”

Let your healthcare provider know if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms. A non-infected, normal IV site will be without redness, swelling, or puffiness in and around the vein.

While medical devices have improved by leaps and bounds over the years, IV failure continues to be an issue that affects millions of patients. Be sure to immediately let your nurse or doctor know if your IV site doesn’t look or feel right.  



Image Source –

Protect Patients from IV Infiltration

IV Dislodgement Patient Safety

Intravascular Catheter-Related Bloodstream Infection

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