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Can You File a Medical Malpractice Claim Over IV Infiltration Injuries?

by The Beasley Firm  |  January 31, 2022  |  

IV & PICC Line Errors: Can You Sue for Injuries?

IV, or intravenous, therapy is used to administer electrolytes, medications, antibiotics, and other fluids into the bloodstream through a small catheter needle inserted into a vein. 

While IVs are used widely in the treatment of acute injuries or illnesses and various procedures or surgeries, they are not without risks. Serious complications can arise when IVs are improperly placed, or patients are inadequately monitored.

The Beasley Firm is one of Pennsylvaniaโ€™s leading medical malpractice law firms and can help evaluate whether you may have a potential claim against a negligent provider. If you or someone you love have suffered harm and losses due to IV infiltration, you may have grounds to pursue legal action. Contact our office at for a free consultation.

What Happens If the IV Is Not in the Vein?

Medicine and fluids can leak into surrounding tissue when an IV is not administered properly and misses the vein. Also known as โ€œIV Infiltration,โ€ this error is harmful and dangerous because it can cause a range of serious and painful medical complications. These include irritation (from over-administration of the fluid into surrounding tissue), damage to nerves, brain injuries or stroke, and even death. Some types of medication can also cause serious burns if the medication is corrosive.ย When an IV leaks a vesicant drug (a fluid that causes tissue damage), it is referred to asย IV extravasation.

IV therapy has become a common way to conveniently and quickly administer fluids and medications. Though there are situations when providers may insert needles several times to find a vein, multiple pokes do not constitute negligence or injury.

However, an IV that is improperly inserted and left unchecked can cause significant harm. IV infiltration occurs when fluids or medications administered through IVs leak out of the vein and into the surrounding soft tissue.

Complications from IV infiltration or extravasation can be severe and life-threatening. If left untreated, it can require amputation of the affected arm, necrosis, and permanent loss of function.

What Injuries Are Caused by an IV Mistake?

Injuries from an IV mistake can range in severity. Because of the type of medication involved, IV extravasation may cause more damage. Complications may take longer to develop with IV extravasation leading to long-term health problems.

Common injuries caused by improper IV administration include:

  • Burn injuries or blisters of tissue surrounding the IV site
  • Tissue damage or death (necrosis)
  • Injuries to nerves
  • Compartment syndrome
  • Air embolism
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • The need for amputation or skin grafts
  • Reflect sympathetic dystrophy (RSD)
  • Long-term or permanent disability

Treatment for an IV mistake may include debridement of necrotic tissue and skin grafting. In cases of severe swelling that compromises blood flow (compartment syndrome), it may be necessary to complete a fasciotomy surgery that releases pressure and restores blood flow through a long incision. 

While some of these treatments may ultimately save the affected body part, they can also cause scarring and exacerbate what can already be prolonged, painful, and expensive recovery. 

Who Is At Fault for IV Injury?

IV mistakes can pose considerable risks of serious injury or death, especially in the case of IV extravasation involving vesicant medications. For this reason, it is vital for health care providers to properly place and administer IV catheters into the vein and to frequently assess patients to timely detect complications.

The longer infiltration or extravasation remains undetected, the greater the potential for more severe harm. Unfortunately, some medical providers fail to adhere to acceptable standards of their practice when administering IVs or monitoring patients and IV sites. 

Individual medical staff and the hospital or facility they work for may be held liable for IV-related injuries. A negligent health care provider may be legally responsible for damages that result from improper insertion, failing to check for inflammation, or failing to take immediate action once an error is discovered. 

Can a PICC Line or IV Catheter Cause Chest Pain?

A peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) line or IV catheter can pose serious health risks, including infection and blood clots. PICC lines must be carefully monitored to avoid devastating mistakes that may prove fatal. 

During insertion, if an air bubble becomes trapped, it can enter the bloodstream. A large amount of air forced into the bloodstream can cause severe chest pain and ultimately heart failure.

Do I Have a Malpractice Case For An IV Mistake?

Whether you have grounds to pursue a medical malpractice claim depends entirely on the unique facts of your case. Generally, injured patients and families may bring lawsuits against negligent providers who fail to meet acceptable standards of their profession.

In addition to proving substandard care, a plaintiff must prove that proper care would have likely resulted in a better outcome. Finally, medical malpractice victims will need to prove their damages, which can include a range of economic and non-economic losses arising from their injuries.

Damages in malpractice claims may include:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost income and lost future wages
  • Permanent disfigurement or disability
  • Loss of enjoyment or quality of life

At The Beasley Firm, weโ€™ve cultivated relationships with a network of medical experts who help our attorneys assess clientsโ€™ prognoses and what expenses, damages, and setbacks theyโ€™re likely to incur. We use this insight to prove our clientโ€™s claims and pursue the full amount of compensation they need.

Why Choose The Beasley Firm?

The Beasley Firm is recognized nationally for our work helping victims of medical malpractice seek the justice and financial compensation they deserve.

  • Over $2 billion in compensation recovered for clients since 1958.
  • Record-setting results, including the two largest medical malpractice verdicts in Pennsylvania history ($100M and $55M).
  • Named among U.S. Newsโ€™ โ€œBest Law Firmsโ€ in Medical Malpractice Law.
  • Award-winning trial lawyers nationally recognized among the nationโ€™s best.

If you or someone you love has suffered serious harm or loss resulting from IV complications such as infiltration or extravasation, our Philadelphia-based trial lawyers are readily available to discuss your rights and options. Contact our office today at to get started.

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