Recently, IV therapy has moved from hospital settings to clinics, drip bars, and even homes. As a result, many people are trying to learn how to insert their own intravenous lines so they can administer fluids, vitamins, nutrients, and certain types of medications directly into their bloodstream. The problem is that it is a more difficult process than most people think.
The top tip any expert will have for starting an iv at home is to call a licensed healthcare provider. Only trained experts can ensure patient safety. All of that said, there are plenty of people out there who will not heed that warning, and no one wants them to get infections or cause damage to their veins. This article will outline the six steps required to insert an IV at home but should not be considered a replacement for using a trained and licensed medical professional to place IV lines for infusion therapy.
Step One: Gather Materials
The first step is to gather all of the necessary materials so that they will be close at hand. This step helps to ensure that the process will go smoothly and minimizes the potential for contamination that could occur if someone gets halfway through administering an IV and then gets up to gather more supplies. Here’s what’s necessary:
A non-latex tourniquet
A bag of sterile IV fluid
An appropriately sized IV catheter
An IV pole
A sterile pad
A sterile bandage or dressing
A sharps container
Most of these items must be designed specifically for medical use. Attempting to replace them with non-sterile parts is a recipe for infection.
Step Two: Wash Hands With Antibacterial Soap
Before touching any of the collected supplies, the person administering the IV must wash their hands thoroughly using an antibacterial soap. This step is also key to reducing infection risk.
Step Three: Prime the Tubing
Priming IV tubing is the process of removing the air from the line. If any air is left in the tubing, it enters the patient’s circulatory system. This will cause serious complications in the form of air embolisms, which can travel throughout the bloodstream. If the air embolism reaches the brain, it can cause a stroke. If it reaches the heart, it can cause a heart attack.
The process of priming IV tubing is somewhat complicated. The best way for patients who plan to administer their own IV therapy at home to learn how to perform it safely is to attend training or get lessons directly from a licensed medical practitioner. Remember, one mistake at this point can create a potentially deadly situation.
Step Four: Prepare the Vein
Next, don the sterile gloves before deciding where to place the catheter. The gloves must be kept sterile to avoid infections, so if the person inserting the IV comes into contact with any form of contaminant, they should be changed out for a fresh, sterile pair.
Look for the most prominent vein to insert the catheter. Ideally, the vein should be in the patient’s non-dominant arm. However, there are circumstances where it must be inserted elsewhere. When deciding on a vein, be sure to avoid all of these mistakes:
· Placing the IV in the same area of the same vein repeatedly.
Placing the IV where it could interfere with a recent medical procedure.
Placing the IV in a spot that is red, swollen, or hot to the touch, all of which indicate the presence of an infection.
Placing the IV on the side of a patient’s body where a vascular graft or mastectomy has been performed.
Only once the person inserting the IV has chosen a vein should they apply the tourniquet. The tourniquet restricts blood flow to make the vein more prominent, but if that isn’t sufficient, there are a few other tricks that can help. Have the patient hang their arm towards the floor or try palpating the vein with a thumb to get it to pop out.
Step Five: Insert the IV Catheter
Before inserting the needle, use an alcohol wipe or a cotton pad soaked in alcohol to disinfect the area. Next, remove the catheter from its package, avoiding contact with non-sterile surfaces. Inspect it to make sure that it’s not damaged and that the flashback chamber is securely affixed to the catheter. The hub, on the other hand, should sit loosely on the needle.
Hold the catheter with the dominant hand while inserting the needle bevel-up. As the needle enters the vein, the insertion angle must be decreased. At this point, there should be a flashback of blood in the hub. If there is no flashback, the chances are good that the needle did not successfully puncture the vein.
If the attempt to insert the IV catheter is unsuccessful, don’t ever dig around to try to find the vein. This can damage the patient’s vein and cause unwanted bruising. Instead, remove the needle and try again.
Once the person inserting the IV sees the flashback, they can pull out the needle 1cm and insert the catheter. They can then secure the catheter using a sterile bandage and remove the tourniquet. The needle can be removed now and placed in a sharps container.
Step Six: Insert the Tubing and Secure the Line
Finally, remove the cover from the end of the already-primed IV tubing to insert it into the catheter hub. Be careful not to let the line touch the floor. Once it’s screwed into place, secure the tubing and hang the IV bag on the pole above the patient’s head, double-check the line, and monitor everything while the infusion occurs.
Is It Worth the Risk?
What people without medical backgrounds should be asking themselves right now is whether attempting to insert an IV line at home is worth the risk. In almost all cases, the answer is no. The better solution is to call a mobile IV therapy company that employs licensed nurses who can go to a patient’s house and insert the IV safely.