San Antonio IV Infiltration Lawyers
Every single medication and treatment, no matter how routine, comes with its own set of risks and complications. This includes IV therapy. We have all needed IV therapy at some point in our lives – it’s one of those things that’s so simple and common that you don’t think anything can really go wrong. However, complications from IV fails happen all the time. One of the most common IV complications is IV infiltration, which occurs when fluids or medication leak outside of the intended vein and into surrounding tissues. If caught quickly, patients will experience minimal health issues. However, patients who receive certain types of drugs in their IVs – called vesicants – can suffer severe complications, such as permanent damage of tissues and nerves.
If you have suffered catastrophic injuries from IV Infiltration, extravasation, or any other type of IV complication, you may be able to receive financial compensation through a medical malpractice case. A San Antonio medical malpractice attorney at Janicek Law can analyze the details of your case, gather evidence to prove negligence, and help you determine whether filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is the best course of action. Call 210-366-4949 to schedule an initial consultation at our law firm today.
What is an IV?
IV stands for intravenous line. IVs deliver fluids, nutrients, and medications directly to the vein through a tiny needle and a tube. Most people need IV therapy for electrolyte imbalances and dehydration from illnesses like the stomach bug or the flu.
IV insertion is a quick and easy process. A medical professional will insert an IV line by picking a suitable vein (most commonly in the arm or hand), disinfecting the IV site, inserting the needle into the vein, inserting a tiny plastic tube into the vein, and removing the needle while leaving the tube in place.
What is IV Infiltration?
IV infiltration is the most common type of IV therapy complication in which the fluids leak into surrounding tissue instead of going directly into the vein. In fact, medical experts suspect that at least 20% of IV fails are attributed to infiltrations or extravasations.
IV infiltration occurs for a variety of reasons, including too much patient movement, an inappropriately sized catheter, vein piercing, IV dislodging, or improper IV placement.
What is IV Extravasation?
IV extravasation is basically the same thing as infiltration, except the leaking fluids contain a vesicant drug. A vesicant is a type of drug that can lead to blistering and tissue damage if it doesn’t go directly into a vein.
Signs and Symptoms of IV Infiltration and IV Extravasation
Symptoms of an IV infiltration injury or extravasation injury can include:
- Swelling and “tight skin” at the IV insertion site;
- Severe pain or a burning sensation at the IV site;
- Impaired blood flow;
- Skin discoloration and/or numbness at the IV insertion point;
- Leaking fluids near the insertion point;
- Tissue damage;
- Severe blistering at the IV insertion site.
Dangerous Vesicant Drugs
There are certain types of vesicant drugs that can cause severe tissue damage and other complications if they happen to leak outside of a patient’s vein.
The “red list” of vesicants include those that have multiple reports of causing tissue damage and complications during an extravasation event. These drugs include:
- Calcium chloride
- Calcium gluconate
- Contrast media – nonionic
- Dextrose concentration ≥ 12.5%
- Parenteral nutrition solutions ≥ 900 mOsm/L
- Sodium bicarbonate
- Sodium chloride ≥ 3%
The “yellow list” of vesicants include those that have few reports of tissue damage and complications, but still have the potential to cause serious injuries. These drugs include:
- Dextrose concentration ≥ 10% to 12.5%
- Mannitol ≥ 20%
- Pentobarbital sodium
- Phenobarbital sodium
- Potassium ≥ 60 mEq/L
- Vancomycin hydrochloride
IV Infiltration and Extravasation Complications
IV extravasation and infiltration injuries can lead to severe health complications especially without proper treatment by a medical professional. Possible complications include:
- Compartment Syndrome is a condition caused by excessive pressure within a muscle or tissue compartment. Without medical intervention, severe cases of compartment syndrome can lead to tissue, muscle, and/or nerve damage.
- Skin Necrosis occurs when skin begins to die due to lack of blood flow. Tissue death can occur from toxin or chemical exposure, traumatic injuries, and even infections.
- Skin Burns: The vesicant drugs listed previously have the ability to literally burn and damage skin and other tissues if it doesn’t flow straight into a vein. Severe tissue damage and burns can warrant the need for skin grafts.
- Permanent Nerve Damage: If the IV infiltration occurs around nerves, then patients can suffer permanent nerve damage. Severe cases of compartment syndrome can lead to permanent nerve damage as well. Patients with permanent nerve damage may experience tingling, numbness, and even loss of mobility in the affected area.
- Amputation: The most severe cases of necrosis, skin burns, and nerve damage can lead to amputation of the affected limb or digit.
- Medication Errors: IV infiltrations often mean that patients don’t receive the proper amount of medications that they need to recover from their condition or injury.
Treatment for IV Infiltration and Extravasation
If IV infiltration occurs, medical professionals should take the following safety protocols immediately:
- Stop the medication or fluid infusion.
- Disconnect the IV tube but leave the needle or catheter in place in order to remove fluid from the surrounding tissue and possibly provide an antidote.
- Do not flush the IV line.
- If an antidote is not necessary to treat extravasation complications, then remove the catheter or needle.
- If an antidote is necessary to treat extravasation complications, then inject it into the affected area and remove the catheter.
- Elevate the affected area to reduce swelling.
- Use cold or warm compresses on the affected area, depending on the vesicant drug that leaked into surrounding tissue. Cold compresses cause vasoconstriction, which means the narrowing of blood vessels. This can restrict the medication from spreading further into the tissue and reduce swelling and pain as well. Warm compresses have the opposite effect; they enlarge the blood vessels, which can help the drug disperse throughout the body.
- Physically massage the affected area to help disperse the drug throughout the body.
From here, medical staff will monitor patients to ensure that they don’t begin developing complications such as compartment syndrome or tissue death. If these complications happen, medical professionals will have to resort to other treatments, such as fasciotomy, anti-inflammatory drugs, skin grafts, etc. It all depends on the patient and the severity of their IV infiltration injuries.
Early detection of IV infiltration or extravasation can lead to a full recovery. However, if doctors fail to check on their patients on a regular basis and fail to notice IV complications and provide proper treatment, then the patient will have a serious risk of long-term health issues.
Can You Sue for IV Complications?
Yes, you can sue for IV infiltration injuries if they were caused by medical negligence. In other words, if the careless and reckless acts of medical professionals led to your IV infiltration, extravasation, and/or subsequent health complications, then you may have grounds to file a medical malpractice claim.
Proving Negligence in a Medical Malpractice Claim
In order to have a strong medical malpractice case, you must prove that medical negligence occurred. This can be incredibly difficult, especially without an experienced attorney and medical expert on your side.
San Antonio medical malpractice lawyers at Janicek Law can help victims gather sufficient evidence to prove the 4 elements of negligence:
- Duty of Care: Healthcare providers must abide by a strict medical standard of care. This means that they have a duty to provide appropriate, reasonable, safe, and competent care.
- Breached Duty of Care: The medical professional breached this duty of care through negligent actions or inactions.
- Causation: The negligence of a medical professional directly caused an IV infiltration injury and/or complication.
- Damages: The patient suffered a variety of damages due to their injuries, therefore, they should receive fair financial compensation.
A San Antonio medical malpractice attorney can help you prove these elements of negligence through evidence such as medical records, witness statements, pictures and videos of injuries, and more.
Medical Malpractice Damages
Our experienced legal team can help victims recover financial compensation for the following types of damages in their medical malpractice lawsuit:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future physical therapy bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Mental health counseling costs
- Permanent injury, disfigurement, and/or disability
- Loss of quality of life
- Loss of consortium
- Funeral and burial expenses (if the medical negligence incident resulted in wrongful death)