6 Ways to Prepare and Care for Your IV  

Non-surgical medical procedures are used to diagnose, measure and/or treat problems such as injury, illness or disease. Intravenous (IV) therapy is one of these common procedures, especially in the hospital setting. Although they are generally not highly invasive, for many patients, they can be painful, frightening or stressful. Getting mentally and physically prepared is important, especially if this is your first time getting an IV or you had access challenges in the past. Here are six ways to stay engaged before, during and after having an IV therapy   


  1. Ask questions. Begin by asking questions. Use the senses to form your questions; how it will feel, who will be inserting it, what medication or fluid will be administered and ask about the equipment being used. It’s important to be involved in your care plan from the start and knowing what’s in store will decrease stress ahead of the procedure.
  2. Use gravity. While the medical provider is collecting and setting up supplies, instead of sitting with your hand or arm on the armrest or your lap, dangling your arm. This may help make the veins plumper and help with a successful first insertion. 


  1. Assign a job. Giving yourself a “job” during the insertion to puts the focus on something else than the potential pain or discomfort. It can be as simple as breathe! Take a deep breath in through the nose slowly and steadily and then slowly release the breath. Jobs for children include reading a story blow bubbles, listen to music, or watch a video.
  2. Validate concerns. Your medical team should inform you that it’s okay to speak up and address concerns as they arise. Symptoms of the IV failing include pain, swelling, and warmth at the IV site. Alert your medical provider right away as these can be signs and lead to more dangerous complications if they progress unchecked. 


  1. Keep an eye on the site. After the procedure and once the catheter is removed, you may experience a little soreness at the insertion site. That’s totally normal and is your body working to repair the insertion site. Developing a bruise from an IV can be fairly common, but should be reported to a healthcare professional if it doesn’t seem to be healing or addressed in a follow-up appointment. If you experience continued redness and swelling, the IV site may be infected. Infection is a serious complication and needs to be addressed immediately.
  2. Reward yourself or your child. Give credit for a job well done. Next time you will be able to see the procedure through without fear or intimidation. 

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