Many children in Atlanta, and all over Georgia, receive intravenous (or “IV”) medication for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately, IV injuries are common as a result of improper placement or lack of monitoring after the IV site is established, usually in a hospital or outpatient surgery center.
Whatever fluid or medication a doctor orders to be given to a patient via an IV, is delivered through a syringe or catheter placed directly into the child’s vein. The IV site is usually near the arm or wrist, although the IV may be placed elsewhere. The IV is sometimes referred to as a peripheral venous catheter (“PVC”) and is capable of delivering any number of chemicals into the bloodstream, such as fluids to treat dehydration, medication to treat infection, or nutrients in place of food. For example, premature babies often receive medication to treat an infection and also receive Total Parenteral Nutrition (“TPN”) if the infant has trouble eating or digesting food. Older kids might receive IV medication for infectious disease purposes and might also receive IV pain medication after a general or orthopedic surgery.
So, what is an IV infiltration injury? IV injuries occur when the fluid that is pumping through the IV, which is supposed to go directly into the child’s veins, “escapes” the IV catheter and flows into the surrounding tissue instead of the bloodstream. Fluids and medications can be either non-vesicant (meaning not irritating to the surrounding tissue) or vesicant (meaning caustic or irritating to surrounding tissue). Vesicant fluids and medication have the capability of causing injury more quickly; however, even non-vesicants may cause substantial harm to a patient because fluids or medication leak into areas of the body which are not able to tolerate increased pressure or fluid build up.
Our Georgia child injury law firm has seen IV injuries arising from negligence in:
• Failing to properly place the IV
• Failing to properly monitor the IV site, usually every hour
• Improper fastening or securing of the IV
• Failing to check for redness, swelling, burns, or color change around the IV
• Not ensuring that the IV site is properly functioning
• Re-using IV sites instead of rotating access points
IV injuries may lead to short-term, or long-term, problems depending upon a number of factors. How long the infiltrate occurred, what medication was flowing through the IV and ultimately into the surrounding tissue, and the part of the body affected, may all play a role in the child’s ultimate outcome.
Some injuries that may result from IV infiltrations are:
• Tissue damage and compression, leading to nerve injuries
• Burn injuries
• Compartment syndrome
• Fasciotomy (surgery to relieve pressure)
• Pain and swelling
• Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (“RSD”)
• Debridement surgery or skin grafts
• Wrongful death
There are a number of long-terms risks to children that are associated with significant IV infiltrate injuries. Two of the most common that our child injury law firm has seen are scarring and range of motion restriction. First, the initial IV infiltration injury may result in scarring to the affected area and sometimes the scar is substantial. The scar itself often leads to physical discomfort and, of course, the child is self-conscious about the scar. Some of our clients have undergone scar revision surgeries in an effort to reduce the appearance of substantial scars.
In addition, the scar may cause a “tethering” or anchoring effect on nearby skin. This, or direct injury from the IV to surrounding nerves, often results in range of motion restriction, usually in the affected arm or elbow. For example if a child has an IV site placed near a joint (such as the inner elbow) and then suffers an IV infiltration, any scarring or nerve injury in the area is likely to cause the child to not be able to fully flex or extend the elbow joint. Sometimes, physical therapy can cure the issue, but often surgeries—and sometimes even multiple surgeries—are needed to address range of motion problems.
We encourage anyone who has suffered an IV infiltration injury to call our law firm for a free consultation.
Other Child Injury Practice Areas
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IV injuries occur when the fluid that is pumping through the IV, which is supposed to go directly into the child’s veins, “escapes” the IV catheter and flows into the surrounding tissue instead of the bloodstream. Fluids and medications can be either non-vesicant (meaning not irritating to the surrounding tissue) or vesicant (meaning caustic or irritating to surrounding tissue). Vesicant fluids and medication have the capability of causing injury more quickly; however, even non-vesicants may cause substantial harm to a patient because fluids or medication leak into areas of the body which are not able to tolerate increased pressure or fluid build up.Read More
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Traumatic Brain Injuries
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