Many people are not familiar with IV infiltration, but they are familiar with IVs if they have been in the hospital or a family member has been in the hospital. Most people admitted to the hospital require intravenous (IV) therapy. Outpatient facilities and some physicians’ offices use IVs too.

IVs infuse liquid directly into a patient’s vein. An IV can be used for blood, medication, saline, and other liquids. The procedure is usually simple.

A nurse or other medical provider inserts a needle into the person’s vein. The provider slips a plastic catheter over the needle into the vein. The needle is removed, and the catheter remains in the vein.

Once the catheter is secure, the patient can receive liquids directly into the vein. The process makes giving patients large amounts of liquids quick and easy. However, IV complications can cause permanent impairments and death.

What is IV Infiltration? 

IV infiltration can occur when the IV is not inserted correctly, or the needle pierces the vein. It can also occur when the health care worker places the IV in a location where the IV can become dislodged when the patient moves, such as placing the IV too close to the bend of the arm.

When an IV is inserted incorrectly or placed incorrectly, the liquid passing through the IV can leech into the surrounding tissue instead of going into the vein. IV infiltration can cause a variety of adverse effects, including but not limited to:

  • Swelling, burning, discomfort, and redness around the IV
  • The patient does not receive the correct dose of medication or solution
  • Burns, skin blistering, and ulceration
  • Severe scarring where the medication contacts the skin
  • Permanent nerve damage

In severe IV infiltration cases, the person could experience an impaired or diminished use of the extremity where the IV was located. In some cases, surgical amputation of the affected limb could be required.

Common Reasons for IV Infiltration 

The use of IVs in medical settings is extremely common. Inserting and using IVs is not a complicated procedure, but it does require training and knowledge. Mistakes during and after the IV is inserted can cause serious complications.

Some common reasons for IV infiltration or IV injury include, but are not limited to:

  • Improper insertion of the IV
  • Use of oversized or incorrect catheter
  • Repeated attempts to insert the IV causing damage to the vein or surrounding tissue
  • Failure to adequately monitor the IV once it is inserted
  • Using an IV flow rate that is too high
  • Failing to monitor for symptoms that the vein where the IV is located ruptured
  • Pressure or friction from movement causes the catheter to move, which results in vein erosion
  • Defective or damaged IV catheters

Minimizing the risk of complications and IV infiltration requires medical providers to take steps to prevent IV injuries. Steps may include but are not limited to, inspecting equipment, utilizing the correct equipment, choosing an appropriate IV site, following proper procedures for IV insertion, and monitoring the IV after insertion.

Medical Malpractice Claims for IV Infiltration 

If medical negligence or medical errors resulted in an IV infiltration or IV injury, you might have a claim under New York’s medical malpractice laws. However, proving medical malpractice is more complicated than proving a typical negligence claim. 

You must first establish the medical standard of care applicable to your case. Your medical malpractice lawyer works with medical experts to determine the medical standard of care for your case.

After establishing the medical standard of care, you must then prove that your medical provider deviated from that standard of care. In most cases, the medical standard of care is based on what a reasonable doctor would have done in a situation similar to your situation. 

You must also prove that the deviation from the standard of care caused your injury and damages. If you were not harmed, you could not make your case for medical malpractice. 

What Should I Do if I Suffered an IV Injury?

If you were injured because of IV infiltration, contact a medical malpractice attorney immediately. Do not discuss the case with the doctor, medical facility, or an insurance company without your attorney present. 

If you were injured because of medical malpractice, you could be entitled to compensation for:

  • Past and future medical bills related to the injuries caused by medical negligence
  • Lost income and benefits
  • Loss of future earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Emotional distress

Families of patients who died because of IV infiltration can receive compensation for the wrongful death. 

If you have questions about a medical malpractice claim, contact an attorney immediately. Your time to file a medical malpractice claim is limited by New York’s statute of limitations. Protect your rights by seeking legal advice as soon as possible.