Techniques to Prepare and Care for an IV
IV therapy is a minimally invasive procedure. However, for many patients, it can be painful, frightening, or stressful. Getting mentally and physically prepared is important, especially if this is the first time you are having an IV placed, or if you have had access challenges in the past. Here are five ways to stay engaged before, during, and after having IV therapy that can help you prepare and care for your IV:
Preparing for an IV
Begin by asking questions. Use the senses to form your questions; how it will feel, who will be inserting it, what medication or fluid will be administered and ask about the equipment being used. It’s important to be involved in your care plan from the start and knowing what is in store will decrease stress ahead of the procedure.
While the medical provider is collecting and setting up supplies, instead of sitting with your hand or arm on the armrest or your lap, try dangling your arm. Using gravity may help fill the veins with blood—engorging the veins and helping with a successful first insertion.
During an IV
Assign yourself a job.
Giving yourself a “job” during the insertion puts the focus on something else besides the potential pain or discomfort. It can be as simple as breathe! Take a deep breath in through the nose slowly and steadily and then slowly release the breath. To use this technique with children try reading a story, blowing bubbles, listening to music, or watching a video.
Your medical team should inform you that it’s okay to speak up and address concerns as they arise. Symptoms of the IV failing include pain, swelling, leaking, discoloration and warmth or coolness at the IV site. Alert your medical provider right away as these can be signs and lead to more dangerous complications if they progress and remain unchecked.
Caring for an IV Site
Keep an eye on the site.
After the procedure and once the catheter is removed, you may experience a little soreness at the insertion site. That is normal and is your body working to repair the insertion site. Developing a bruise from an IV is common, but should be reported to a healthcare professional if the site does not seem to be healing. If you experience continued redness and swelling, the IV site may be infected. Infection is a serious complication and needs to be addressed immediately.