Intravenous (IV) fluids are those administered directly into a vein via injection. This differs from medication administered via other methods, such as orally or via injection into muscle tissue (such as a flu shot). In the case of intravenous therapy, the amount of fluid the patient receives and the rate at which they receive it is carefully controlled, either manually or using an electric pump. Intravenous therapy is one of the services we provide at our skilled nursing facility.
It is helpful to picture the IV setup from a medical drama on television: a small plastic tube goes from a patient’s vein—typically one on the top of the hand or in the crook of the elbow—up to a clear plastic bag hanging off of a pole. The contents of this bag flow into the patient’s bloodstream. Without a control mechanism, the rate of this flow would be dictated simply by gravity, which could result in the patient receiving the prescribed IV fluid too quickly or too slowly.
To begin IV therapy, a nurse will locate a vein that’s well-suited to receive the IV catheter. In some instances, the nurse will need to take steps to dilate the vein in order to more easily and effectively place the IV. This may involve tying a strap firmly around the patient’s upper arm, or having the patient squeeze their hand into a fist. Next, the nurse will disinfect the injection site, most commonly using an alcohol swab. Once disinfected, the nurse will pierce the skin with an IV needle. The IV catheter will then be threaded over the needle, and the needle will be removed.
Often times, patients are anxious about moving the injection site due to fear of disturbing a needle in their arm. It is important to know that the needle is removed immediately following injection, leaving only the catheter—a pliable, plastic tube—in the skin. Once the catheter has been placed and connected to the IV fluid, the nurse sets the flow rate of the IV fluid.
Common Applications of IV Therapy
There are several instances in which IV therapy serves as an effective form of fluid delivery. In each instance, the IV fluid is typically water mixed with electrolytes, sugar, or medication as necessary.
In the case of dehydration, whether caused by illness or overexertion, it is imperative that a patient rehydrate and recover the fluids their body has lost.
IV therapy can deliver a consistent medication flow to combat persistent pain.
Antibiotics administered over time can help properly fight infection.
When patients go in for chemotherapy, the medications they relieve are administered via IV therapy.
Risks of IV Therapy
IV therapy is an inherently safe method of treatment, with a short list of minor risks. These include:
- Infection at the site of the injection
- Collapsed vein
- Dislodged catheter
- Improper regulation of IV fluid (flow set too fast or too slow)
Should any of these complications occur, they are not severe and can be corrected or treated on the spot.
Why Choose Princeton Health Care Center?
We’re an experienced provider of IV therapy services for the need of long term IV antibiotics. Contact Princeton Health Care Center today for more information on IV therapy.