By Heather Michon |

Jillian knows a thing or two about needles and veins. She’s a certified phlebotomist, trained to draw blood. She’s been on the receiving end of an IV more than once in her life: childbirth, medical procedures, and even routine exams.

So when a bad case of hives sent her to her local ER, she had a good idea of what to expect when medical staff ordered an IV treatment to help relieve her symptoms.

The first problem came when the nurse inserted the needle.

“It didn’t really hurt except for when the needle went all the way through [the vein] and hit a nerve,” Jillian recalls. She was administered Benadryl and some other drugs to help clear up the hives and sent home.

Later that night, her heart rate suddenly skyrocketed. As someone trained to take patients’ vitals, Jillian knew she needed to return to the emergency room.  She arrived at the hospital with tightness in her chest, difficulty breathing, and a pulse rate of 165 beats per minute. Keep in mind, the average adult’s heartbeat is somewhere between 60 – 100 beats per minute.

She was put back on an IV to receive fluids, and again, it didn’t feel quite right. When she alerted a nurse that she thought the catheter wasn’t all the way in the vein and recommended he move it, she says he refused, and instead placed her arm into such an uncomfortable position that her arm started to shake.

After about 45 minutes, the fluid seemed to have stopped flowing and her arm was beginning to swell around the elbow.

“It shouldn’t be like this,” she told her cousin, who was keeping her company in the treatment room. “I shouldn’t have to keep my arm a certain way for the fluid to go in. It should just be flowing.”

To Jillian’s frustration, she could not get the nurse to retract or reinsert the IV. Her professional experience didn’t seem to matter to him.

As a patient, one of the best ways to improve your care is to be informed and to speak up if something doesn’t feel right. If you don’t feel you’re receiving the appropriate care you need, try asking for another nurse’s opinion or request to speak to a doctor on duty.

If you need help with what to say, we have created a How to Talk to Your Healthcare Professional document for guidance.

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