An intravenous catheter (IV) is an essential piece of medical equipment that helps medical professionals save countless lives and allows millions to recover from illnesses and injuries. It is used to administer fluids — including blood, water, saline solutions, medications, and other liquids — directly into a patient’s vein.

Although IVs are used every day, their use comes with certain risks. Patients may suffer both long- and short-term problems from the use of IVs. If these problems are caused by negligence or recklessness, the patient may have a valid injury claim, as in this Texas case of infiltration.

What is IV Infiltration?

IV infiltration is a real risk for patients equipped with IVs. Infiltration occurs when the IV catheter dislodges, punctures a vein, or is inadvertently pulled from a vein and spills fluid into the surrounding tissue. 

Depending on the fluid being administered at the time, infiltration can cause a patient some minor discomfort or lead to serious injury. If the fluid is one that can cause damage to surrounding tissue, its escape is known as extravasation. 

What Are the Signs of IV Infiltration?

Various signs may point to IV infiltration in a patient. These signs would not go unnoticed in a world where medical care is flawless. However, medical professionals are not perfect and sometimes make serious errors, such as missing the signs of IV infiltration or downplaying their existence.

Signs of infiltration may include:

  • Swelling around the IV entry site
  • Pain or tenderness at the IV entry site
  • Redness or blanching at the IV entry site
  • Development of a firm knot at or around the site
  • IV failure of function

The development of these signs and their severity depends heavily on the fluid being administered. 

What Causes IV Infiltration? 

Many factors can lead to IV infiltration, which is why medical professionals have the duty to regularly monitor IV sites to ensure they have been set up properly. In many cases, negligence underlies the cause and may result in a medical malpractice claim.

Common causes of IV infiltration include:

  • The IV catheter punctures the vein wall, which often occurs when the catheter is inserted or when a patient moves
  • Leakage at the vein entrance site, which sometimes happens when a clot or something else restricts the flow of blood
  • The IV catheter becomes dislodged and completely backs out of the insertion site
  • Fragile veins (common in elders) blow out during the administration of medication

A competent medical professional will catch these signs in a timely manner if they are regularly monitoring their patients. If not, the injuries can be severe and lead to compensable damages.

What Injuries Are Caused By IV Infiltration?

Incidents of infiltration can lead to minor discomfort or serious medical emergencies. In most cases, the most serious injuries occur when an infiltration event is allowed to go on for an extended period of time, thus exacerbating the situation. The most severe injuries also happen when extravasation occurs. 

Injuries that may result from infiltration and extravasation include:

  • Pain from bruising and tissue irritation
  • Infection
  • Chemical burns
  • Nerve damage
  • Tissue necrosis
  • Disfigurement

In particularly egregious cases, the infiltration may lead to amputation. What’s disturbing is that in many cases, infiltration and extravasation are preventable — or at least the serious injuries that develop from unnoticed infiltrations are. 

If you or a loved one has experienced an injury caused by IV infiltration, you likely have recourse through a medical malpractice claim and should contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. You may be entitled to significant compensation to help you heal from your injury and get your life back on track.

Contact the Houston Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers For Help

For more information, contact the Houston medical malpractice law firm of Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers by calling (713) 500-5000.

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