IV lines, also known as intravenous catheters, play a vital part in treatment procedures such as chemotherapy, blood transfusion etc. These procedures may involve direct and faster administering of blood, saline and other drugs into patient’s body. A patient’s safety procedure requires that their immediate caregivers such as their family members are well-aware and involve themselves in caring for the IV line and related components.
What is an IV line?
The term IV or intravenous means “into the vein”. The intravenous line consists of a needle which connects to the catheter or “line”(a thin, flexible plastic tube). The tube derives the contents to be administered to the patient from a bag hung from the IV pole. Therefore, the purpose of IV lines is to supply different types of fluids, medications, and blood products. These are usually those which cannot be taken orally, by patients of all ages. A trained health care provider inserts the needle into a vein in the patient’s hand, arm, foot, leg, or even scalp. Through this orifice, the fluid flows directly into the patient’s bloodstream.
Is it important to care for IV lines?
IV lines become dysfunctional if they get dislodged or blocked, which is why protecting and maintaining their health is indispensable for a healthy treatment of the patient. Timely care of the IV-line reduces the risk of complications and promotes an uninterrupted delivery of treating the patient.
In the absence of a nurse or any professional healthcare provider, patient’s caregivers must check the tips mentioned below to ensure safety and proper functioning of the IV lines:
Secure the IV line
There are instances where IV line can come out if someone accidentally bumps into it. Ensure that no one pulls the IV line, when the patient is performing activities of daily living such as walking, eating, using the bathroom, or getting up from a bed or chair etc. It is most preferable to hire a professional healthcare attendant or a nurse to manage the IV line during these activities.
Talk to the patient often
Ask the patient to inform you if the IV line hurts, or if there is any tingling sensation or numbness at the IV site. They must not pull or tug on the IV line by themselves. Instead, always seek the help of the nurse or the medical companion to do any necessary movements around the IV site.
Keep IV site visible (especially when the patient is asleep)
This makes it easier for the caregivers to constantly monitor the IV line and site without waking up the patient.
Keep the IV site dry
The IV site should stay dry at all times to prevent infection and accidental removal of the IV line.
Call for medical help if you notice any signs of complications
- A consistently prevalent pain or pain when touching the IV site
- Swelling or firmness at and around the IV site
- Numbness at the site
- Redness or bruising
- Wetness around the site suggesting a leak in the IV line
- Warmth or coolness at the IV site
Therefore, it is ideal to have the hourly assessments by the nurse or professional medical assistance to ensure the IV line is functional. Patient’s caregivers must also ensure constant monitoring of the IV and must alert the nurse in case of any discrepancy.