Intravenous therapy, also called infusion therapy, is a process by which drugs and/or fluids are administered directly into the veins. IV therapies are many and varied, used in both hospitals and outpatient settings to treat anything from dehydration or malnutrition to fibromyalgia and pain management. Some IV therapies use a drip, while others — including insulin therapy and chemotherapy — involve the use of a wearable injector that administers medication on a timed or as-needed basis.
One form of IV therapy that’s become increasingly prevalent in recent years is IV antibiotic therapy. It’s not used for minor ailments like sinus infections, ear infections, or strep throat, where a short course of oral antibiotics is sufficient to cure the patient. Instead, it’s used for complex skin conditions and other severe infections that require high, frequent, and precise dosing.
How IV Antibiotic Therapy Works
Antibiotics may be administered either via a gravity drip or by a pump connected to the catheter’s injection port. The antibiotics are administered on a timed basis over the course of several hours or days. IV antibiotic therapy is useful in a number of cases, including pneumonia, wound care, sepsis, bone infections, and bacteremia (blood-borne bacterial infection).
Disadvantages of IV Antibiotic Therapy
There are two key disadvantages to antibiotic therapy. First, the incidence of side-effects isn’t any lower than with orally-administered antibiotics. Those side effects will vary based on the kind and amount of antibiotics prescribed and may be more prevalent when multi-antibiotic cocktails must be given. Injection-specific side effects like rashes or injection site infections won’t be found with oral antibiotics.
The second concern is the decreasing efficacy of antibiotic therapy more generally. As bacteria are exposed to antibiotics, any bacteria not killed off by the initial course of the medicine (or left behind because an individual decided to stop taking their medication when they felt better rather than finishing it) will be stronger and more resistant to subsequent treatment. What’s resulted from this are strains of drug-resistant bacteria that, in some cases, even resist the best intravenous antibiotics available.
Advantages of IV Antibiotic Therapy
With those caveats in mind, IV antibiotic therapy still has some significant advantages:
- It is often effective when oral antibiotics have proven ineffective
- It can be performed on an outpatient basis, allowing the patient to remain at home or in a setting that is familiar and safe to them
- It is easier to administer to patients who may resist taking pills
Other Things You Should Know
If you’re the caregiver for an elderly individual, we suggest discussing treatment options in depth. Ask about the advantages, disadvantages, and side effects involved in any treatment plan before proceeding. A competent facility — whether they’re administering in-patient or outpatient care — will take the time to hear and address your concerns. At the end of the day, their objective is the same as yours: your loved one’s comfort and rapid recovery.
For more information about intravenous IV therapy or other skilled nursing care in West Virginia, contact Princeton Health Care Center today.