IV Therapy | Troubleshooting & Complications

Troubleshooting: if the IV solution flow is slow or non-existent ask yourself:

  • Is the tourniquet loose?
  • Restrictive clothing?
  • Swelling at IV site?
  • Flow regulator open?
  • Tip of catheter against vein wall?
  • Bag high enough?
  • Drip chamber filled completely?
  • Do you feel lucky? Well, do you punk?


  • Pain
  • Catheter shear – NEVER draw the catheter back over or through the needle once it has been advanced. Always pull the needle out first!
  • Circulatory overload – S&S headache, flushed skin, tachycardia, hypertension, rales, dyspnea, tachypnea, JVD
  • Cannulation of an artery – bright red blood that pushes the plunger up, pulse
  • Hematoma or infiltration – injury to the blood vessel, puncture or dislodged cannula. S&S edema, blanched skin, discomfort, cool site, slow flow, no blood flashback
  • Local infection – bacteria introduced into IV site S&S swelling tenderness several DAYS after initial treatment
  • Air embolism – air allowed in the vein from IV tubing, IV set dislodged S&S hypotension, cyanosis, tachycardia, increased venous pressure. Loss of responsiveness
  • Pyrogenic reaction – foreign proteins capable of causing fever come in from theĀ IV solution or the administration set. Within 30 minutes of initial treatment. S&S fever, chills, backache, nausea, vomiting (of course, my favorite), flushed face, sudden pulse change. Cardiovascular collapse can result.


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