Injuries Caused by IV Mistakes: Tennessee Medical Malpractice Lawyers Explain Signs and Liability

It is commonplace during a hospital visit for a patient to receive an administration of IV fluids or medications.  This could be for a seemingly innocuous visit such as dehydration due to illness, or for a more serious admission such as before or after a major surgical operation.  Through IVs, health care providers can administer a broad range of fluids such as antibiotics, for hydration, steroids, and pain medications.

In fact, IVs have become a crucial part of most hospital medical treatment and significantly improve patient care.  This is because manufacturers and medical supply companies have developed many different attachments, extensions, and valves for health care providers to use.  Thus, only one puncture in the patient’s skin is required to be made but multiple uses can be garnered from this portal.  This lowers the risk of infection during and after the hospital stay by limiting the number of open wounds on a patient’s body, and minimizes pain and discomfort the patient may have in receiving multiple injections.  Further, this permits hospital staff to inject additional medications or withdraw blood without disturbing a sleeping or critically ill patient.

However, IV injection sites are not without risks and there is a potential for Memphis medical malpractice.  Despite the small size of an IV puncture, serious injuries and even death can occur if negligently placed or maintained in a patient’s arm.  Such injuries like tissue necrosis (damaging and dying), air bubbles, and infection can cause disfigurement, amputation, and even death.  This is particularly true where the IV becomes dislodged from the vein thus causing fluids to be pumped into the patient’s surrounding tissue.

As seemingly harmless as a dislodged IV may sound, where a patient is receiving strong antibiotics, chemotherapy, steroids, or painkillers, serious injury to the surrounding tissue, veins, arteries, and nerves can occur in a short period of time.  If the patient is under sedation in a long surgical operation or in the recovery room and staff does not recognize this medical mistake, the damage may occur for an extended period of time before the patient awakens and finds the problem.

Signs that an IV has been negligently placed or maintained in a patient’s hand include the following:

  • Changes in skin color or temperature;
  • Swelling at the IV site;
  • Bruising;
  • Stretched, taut, bulging or otherwise abnormal skin appearance;
  • The IV infusion has stopped or significantly slowed;
  • Fluid or blood is leaking from the IV site;
  • Pain is present and increasing; and
  • The bandages, dressing, tape, or other fixation at the IV site is damp or wet.

While not all mistakes in IV insertion or maintenance constitute instances of Tennessee medical malpractice, there are some common occurrences which could indicate there is possible liability due to reckless, careless, or otherwise negligent conduct by a health care provider.  Some of the most common causes of IV injury include the following:

  • Improper insertion of the catheter such as wrong angle or position;
  • Multiple failed attempts to insert the IV causing “pinprick” damage to the surrounding tissue and vein, thus making it fail;
  • Use of an oversized catheter;
  • Negligent application of the fixation tape or dressing causing the IV to slip out;
  • Failing to adequately monitor the IV flow rate causing too high a flow rate and thus too high of pressure for the catheter to remain in the vein;
  • Friction, pressure, contact, pulling, or pushing of the IV, IV line, catheter, or similar IV attachment thus pulling the catheter from the vein; and
  • Negligently choosing an inappropriate, weakened, ruptured, or vein with otherwise compromised integrity to support the catheter.

Thus, if you or a loved one believes you may have suffered an IV injury due to a negligent health care provider, please contact one of our experienced Tennessee medical malpractice attorneys immediately.  The statute of limitations from the date of the act or omission is only one year and will be barred after that date.

Here at Bailey and Greer, PLLC our Tennessee medical malpractice attorneys understand how to effectively pursue your claims.  Our legal team has a proven track record of compassionately representing our clients injured in Tennessee personal injury cases which is included in our testimonials page and our successful case results.  Please contact us today to receive your free case evaluation by dialing 901-680-9777.

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