Are IV injuries a risk in nursing homes?

An elderly person who needs support through an intravenous injection (IV) may be dehydrated, require specialized medications or need pain relief. They should receive the support they need to be comfortable as they receive these medications.

Sometimes, IV can be compromised. Other times, they are inserted painfully or miss the vein completely. In rare cases, the wrong medications may be used, leading to burns, necrosis or other serious wounds.

What are the most common IV injuries to watch out for?

Common IV injuries may include:

  • Improper insertion, which may lead to the medication entering the tissues instead of the veins
  • Multiple failed attempts to put the IV in place correctly, leading to damage to the vein and surrounding tissues. This could result in the vein collapsing, in some cases
  • Incorrect medication delivery to the vein
  • Damage from oversized catheters

Some of the worst injuries occur when medical providers, like nurses in nursing homes, don’t listen to their patients’ complaints. A patient that expresses that the IV is painful may actually be describing an insertion that is not in the right location or that is too large for their vein. They may be responding to medications that are not entering the right part of the body, burning the surrounding tissues.

That’s why it’s so important for nursing home staff members to clarify why someone is uncomfortable. If friction is moving the IV, the IV may not be secured correctly and could be damaging the tissues. If the wrong speed is used to deliver the medications, a vein could rupture.

Not all issues from IVs constitute medical malpractice or nursing home neglect. Realistically, even the best-trained nursing staff may have trouble finding a vein in a dehydrated patient or need to readjust an IV that seems to be causing pain.

That being said, a patient should never be ignored. If they are in pain or feel that something isn’t working as it should, then the team at the nursing home should pay attention. Failing to respond to a patient’s concerns or not monitoring their IV correctly could lead to serious injuries and a claim for negligence.