Your Cart


IV therapy: Definitions, Types, Complications, Prevention

About IV Therapy

When a loved one is diagnosed with an illness, family members and caregivers have to become familiar with new lingo. If you're not up on what the terms mean, it can quickly get overwhelming.

Your loved one will need to receive IV Therapy during their illness or injury. While you may have a general idea of what it entails, it's good to know about the different types and possible related complications before they require care for this on an ongoing basis.

For patients with difficult venous access, even the most experienced nurse or doctor can have a hard time finding a vein.Patients who are older, obese, dark-skinned, hypovolemic, have a history of intravenous drug use, or have chronic medical conditions have unique problems finding a suitable vein to start iv.

Aimvein Vein Finder is a portable device that uses vein visualization technology and is designed to help healthcare professionals locate and find the right vein -- including patients whose veins are hard to find.

What Is IV Therapy?

IV stands for intravenous or inside the vein. It means that a patient receives substances directly to their veins through a tube called cannula, which could be medication or nutrition.

Types of IV Therapy

●IV Therapy for fluids

●IV Therapy for blood transfusions

●IV Therapy for medications

●IV Therapy for nutrition

Reasons for Administering IV Therapy

IV therapy is a great way to keep your patients hydrated and comfortable.

Complications of IV Therapy

While the risks of IV treatment are minimal, there can be complications if not administered properly.Phlebitis An inflammation of the vein caused by blood being forced through a needle that's too big or an IV line not secured properly to prevent it, use the smallest possible needle suitable for your patient and fluid you are administering.


Phlebitis is a type of inflammation of the veins.Phlebitis can also occur when a vein is injured during insertion, due to the use of an improperly sized vein catheter, or prolonged use of an intravenous injection in the same location.

Symptoms include:

●Redness or tenderness

●Venous swelling

●Warmth around insertion points


●Use the correct venipecture technique.

●Use reliable medicine

●Monitor the dose rate and check the intravenous site frequently.

●Change the INFUSION point.

●Use a vein detector


●Stop the fluids at the first sign of redness or pain.

●Apply warm, moist gauze to the area.

●Keep a record of your patients and interventions.

2. Extravasation

Extravasation is the leakage of foaming drugs into surrounding tissues.Extravasation can cause severe local tissue damage that can lead to delayed healing, infection, tissue necrosis, disfigurement, loss of function, and even amputation.

Symptoms include:

●White, burning or discomfort at the intravenous site

●The skin around the iv site is cool

●Swelling at or above the intravenous site

●blistering and/or skin shedding


●Avoid using small and/or weak veins, veins in the flexed area, veins that have edema in the extremities, or veins in areas of known neurological dysfunction.

●Watch out for blistering medications, such as certain antineoplastic drugs (doxorubicin, vinblastine and vincristine), as well as hydroxyzine, promethazine, digoxin and dopamine.

●Follow your facility policy and inject vesicant intravenously.Some institutions require foaming agents to be managed only through a central venous access device.

●When ordering multiple medications, use foaming agents as a last resort.

●Adhere strictly to proper medication practice.


●Stop the IV flow and remove the IV line unless the tube should be left in place to apply the antidote.

●Estimate the amount of extravasation solution and notify the prescribing agent.

●Manage the appropriate antidotes according to your organization's protocols.

●Keep your legs up.

●Always evaluate sensation, motor function and circulation in the affected limbs.

●Record the site of extravasation, patient symptoms, estimated amount of extravasation solution, and treatment.

●Apply cold or hot compresses to the affected area as recommended by the manufacturer.

3. Air Embolism. 

If not caught early, it can be fatal and travel to the person's brain, heart or lungs. This complication is avoidable by ensuring that a patient is well hydrated and resting in supine position when injecting/removing IV line.

Symptoms include:

●Blue hue of the patient’s skin

●Difficulty breathing

●Low blood pressure

4. Hypervolaemia. 

This is an abnormal increase in blood volume, especially common among pregnant women, young children and elderly patients or people with kidney problems.

The most common signs are:

●Tachycardia (increased heart rate)

●Distended neck veins

5. Infection. Cleaning sites before inserting an IV can prevent infections.If the site for injection isn't cleaned properly, chances of infection increase. Clean it up with proper sterilization and hygiene to avoid this!

Symptoms include:





● Wear gloves and use aseptic techniques during intravenous injections.

● Before inserting an iv catheter, wash the area with an approved skin preservative.

● Ensure hand hygiene.

● Clean the injection port.


● Stop fluids and notify your doctor.

● Remove the equipment and cultivate the site and catheter as required.

● Give medicine as directed.

● Monitor patient's vital signs.

Don't be intimidated by the complications listed above.As your own experience accumulates, you will be able to quickly identify and prevent these venous complications.

Leave a comment