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An IV Medication Error Could Cost You a Limb—Or Your Life

While there are many ways for a patient to receive treatment in a hospital, clinic, or other acute care setting, there are many situations when intravenous (IV) delivery is preferred or required to deliver medication or hydrating fluids. Many people take for granted that an IV line is a fast and relatively harmless method of providing treatment, but the truth is that this is an invasive procedure that must be performed with care, or the patient can be seriously hurt. In these situations, a medical malpractice lawsuit can help patients and their families seek restitution for the injury.

Here’s what you should know about IV medication errors and medical malpractice lawsuits, including how IV treatment can go wrong, and how you can get legal help if you’ve been hurt.

Common IV Medication Injuries

Receiving IV treatment involves placing a needle into a vein, then inserting a hollow tube, called a catheter. The needle is then removed, leaving one end of the hollow tube inside the vein and the other end outside the skin. The outer portion of the IV device has a port through which liquid medications or hydration fluids may be directly injected, or it may be connectedIV Medications Can Lead to Serious Injuries to a drip device that regulates the flow of liquids into the body over time.

Receiving an IV is one of the most common invasive procedures performed. However, it is still a skilled task that must be performed by a trained and certified individual, as there is a lot of room for error. One of the most common and harmful injuries caused by an IV is an extravasation injury, which can happen during the placement or removal of the IV catheter. An extravasation injury typically means that the IV device has under-traveled or over-traveled and the hollow catheter tip is outside of the vein, or the vein has otherwise been compromised, allowing fluid or medication to seep into the surrounding tissue. The damage that results from an extravasation event can last for months, according to at least one study—and may even result in the need to amputate the affected limb. Other common injuries that result from IVs include:

  • Infusion errors. Some medications must be delivered slowly over time, allowing a set dosage to enter the body at a specific rate. An error performing the calculations or an error in setting the right dosage rate on an infusion machine may result in more or less medication being given than was prescribed.
  • Faulty equipment. If the IV equipment isn’t connected correctly or the equipment itself is faulty, it may lead to dosage errors, improper medication delivery, or other serious issues.
  • Receiving the wrong drug. A miscommunication or misunderstanding of how a given drug works may result in the wrong drug being administered or administered in the wrong way. For instance, a drug that is intended to be injected into a muscle may be harmful, or even lethal, if injected into an IV line instead.
  • Receiving the wrong IV solution. Many IV drugs that are delivered over time are first injected into an IV bag full of a solution of saline or other life-saving compounds; but choosing the wrong solution for the drug or for the patient’s needs can be a life-threatening mistake.

Many IV errors happen in a hospital environment, but IV medications may be administered in other environments as well, including clinics, nursing homes, infusion centers, and other locations where delivering IV fluid or medication is important for patient care.

Proving Your Malpractice Case

While not every poor outcome from an IV error may be medical malpractice, there are certain situations when a healthcare provider’s behavior falls so far below the accepted standards of practice that someone gets hurt by his or her negligent actions. In situations like these, a medical malpractice lawsuit is likely to be the only way in which a patient can receive financial restitution for his or her medical bills and other expenses related to the injury, including compensation for loss of a limb or disfigurement, the pain and suffering the injury caused, and more.

A personal injury attorney with experience handling medical malpractice cases like yours will be able to look at your situation, investigate your claim, and provide you with legal options to move forward and begin your case. You and your attorney will need to show that the health care provider was negligent in his or her duty, and you will likely need the services of expert witnesses to help substantiate your claim.

Get Legal Help Today

To get the legal help that you need, contact the attorneys at Wayne Wright LLP today. Our experienced legal professionals are here to stand up for your rights in a court of law after you have suffered an injury due to the negligence, recklessness, or wrongdoing of a medical professional, and we want to help you and your family receive the compensation that you are owed. To get started with your free, no-obligation consultation, call us by phone today, use our online contact form to send us an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now.