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IV Infiltration Injuries and Complications

Updated May 17, 2022 | By Wilson Kehoe Winingham staff

Hospital scenes in movies or on TV shows often have one thing in common: an IV. If you have ever visited a loved one in the hospital or have been admitted yourself, chances are you have seen one in action.

IVs are an extremely popular way to administer medication or fluids. Unfortunately, complications can occur, and if those complications were caused by negligence on the part of a medical provider, the victim may be able to pursue a medical malpractice claim.

How IVs Work

IVs, or intravenous drip feeds, involve delivering liquid—blood, medication, fluids, etc.—directly into a patient’s vein. The process is relatively simple: A needle is placed into the vein, a plastic catheter is put over the needle, the needle is removed, and the catheter is taped into place.

While common, IV therapy is not foolproof, and mistakes happen. One common type of injury is called an IV infiltration.

IV Infiltration

IV infiltration occurs when the liquid that is supposed to be delivered to the vein through the IV leaks into the surrounding tissue instead. It can be caused by an IV that has pierced a vein, a catheter that is the wrong size, or a dislodged or improperly placed IV.

Movement can also cause IV infiltration, which is why patients need to be monitored closely: Getting in and out of a bed or flexing a joint too close to the IV site can cause the catheter to slip out.


Signs of IV infiltration can include the following:

  • Discomfort, swelling, burning, or redness
  • Skin that looks white or blanched
  • Stretched or taut skin
  • Leaking fluid or wet bandages
  • Slowed or stopped flow of liquid from the IV infusion

Nurses and doctors should be on the lookout for these symptoms at the site of the IV.


Complications from IV infiltration can range from mild discomfort to serious injuries:

  • Skin damage such as scars, blisters, ulcers, or sores
  • Serious infections
  • Permanent nerve damage
  • Vein ruptures
  • Diminished use or amputation of the affected extremity

Medical staff can help prevent these complications.

Medical Staff Responsibilities

Doctors, nurses, and other medical staff have a responsibility to uphold a standard of care. When it comes to avoiding IV injuries, this care includes properly inserting IV needles, choosing the right type and size of catheter, and following all safety protocols when it comes to IV insertion.

Additionally, patients should be monitored, and their IV sites should be checked regularly. Serious IV infiltration complications could be avoided if medical staff address issues at their onset.

Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney Today

If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of IV infiltration or another form of medical malpractice, contact the attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. An experienced Indianapolis medical malpractice lawyer at WKW can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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Let WKW put our experience to work for you. Contact us for your free case evaluation.


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