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Infiltration and Extravasation

Hadaway, Lynn MEd, RNC, CRNI

AJN, American Journal of Nursing:
doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000282299.03441.c7
FEATURE: Emergency

The Infusion Nurses Society's national standards of practice require that a nurse who administers IV medication or fluid know its adverse effects and appropriate interventions to take before starting the infusion. A serious complication is the inadvertent administration of a solution or medication into the tissue surrounding the IV catheter—when it is a nonvesicant solution or medication, it is called infiltration; when it is a vesicant medication, it is called extravasation. Both infiltration and extravasation can have serious consequences: the patient may need surgical intervention resulting in large scars, experience limitation of function, or even require amputation. Another long-term effect is complex regional pain syndrome, a neurologic syndrome that requires long-term pain management. These outcomes can be prevented by using appropriate nursing interventions during IV catheter insertion and early recognition and intervention upon the first signs and symptoms of infiltration and extravasation. Nursing interventions include early recognition, prevention, and treatment (including the controversial use of antidotes, and heat and cold therapy). Steps to manage infiltration and extravasation are presented

Preventing a complication of IV catheterization.

In Brief

The inadvertent administration into the tissues surrounding an IV catheter of a nonvesicant (infiltration) or vesicant (extravasation) solution may cause severe tissue damage. The author presents a case study demonstrating the many decisions to be made during IV catheter insertion.

Author Information

Lynn Hadaway is president of Lynn Hadaway Associates, an education and consulting company specializing in infusion therapy and vascular access in Milner, GA. She has been a paid consultant and a professional speaker for Bard Medical, Inc., the manufacturer of the StatLock catheter stabilization device. Such devices are discussed in this article.

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© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. All rights reserved.