By Heather Michon |

Have you ever had a slow leak in a tire? Or in a garden hose? If so, you know that a tiny little puncture can lead to big problems if it goes unaddressed.

The same goes for IV infiltrations.

An infiltration occurs when IV fluids leak outside of the vein and seep into surrounding tissue, potentially causing swelling, pain, and bruising that can last long after the IV is removed. If your IV contains vesicants — types of medications that can blister or burn tissues — the infiltration is called an extravasation.

Despite the routineness of IV therapy, peripheral IV insertion has “an unacceptably high overall failure rate of 35% to 50% in even the best of hands.”

Raising IV awareness is important because catching an infiltration or extravasation as early as possible can help limit the extent of the damage. While your medical team will keep an eye on your IV, one way to be your own IV advocate is to also monitor your own IV site like the pros.

The Touch-Look-Compare Method

The Infusion Nurses’ Society (INS) has a standardized scale for grading infusions from the least to most severe after an infiltration has occurred.

However, patients and caregivers can use the Touch-Look-Compare method to keep an eye out for signs of an infiltration from the start.

Raising IV awareness is important because catching an infiltration early on is ideal. While nurses will check your IV regularly, having an extra set of eyes never hurts. Remember: you are your own best advocate.

Your Recommended Reads:


Accepted but unacceptable: peripheral IV catheter failure –

Journal of Infusion Nursing: Speaking of standards… Standard 54 Infiltration

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