Tuesday, June 04, 2024

EMS Medication Administration - Intravenous (IV) Catheter Complications


EMS
Providers need to be aware of the potential complications associated with IV catheter placement, their presentations, and how to manage them.
Here’s an overview:

1. INFILTRATION

Definition: Leakage of IV fluid into the surrounding tissue.
Presentation:
  • Swelling at the insertion site
  • Coolness to the touch
  • Pallor (pale skin)
  • Discomfort or pain
Management:
  • Discontinue the IV immediately.
  • Elevate the affected limb.
  • Apply a warm or cold compress based on patient comfort and solution infiltrated.

2. EXTRAVASATION

Definition: Leakage of vesicant (irritating) fluids into the surrounding tissue.
Presentation:
  • Similar to infiltration, but with more severe symptoms
  • Pain or burning at the site
  • Blistering or tissue necrosis
Management:
  • Stop the IV immediately.
  • Elevate the limb and apply a cold compress.
  • Notify medical control for further treatment recommendations, which may include specific antidotes.

3. OCCLUSION

Definition: Blockage of the IV catheter, preventing fluid flow.
Presentation:
  • Difficulty or inability to infuse fluids
  • Backflow of blood into the IV line
Management:
  • Check for kinks or clamps on the tubing.
  • Attempt to flush the catheter gently.
  • If occlusion persists, discontinue and restart IV at a different site.

4. HEMATOMA

Definition: Collection of blood outside the vessel due to vein damage during insertion.
Presentation:
  • Swelling and bruising at the insertion site
  • Tenderness and discoloration
Management:
  • Apply direct pressure to the site to stop bleeding.
  • Apply a cold compress to reduce swelling.
  • Avoid using the same site for subsequent IV attempts.

5. CATHETER SHEAR

Definition: A rare but serious complication where part of the catheter breaks off inside the vein.
Presentation:
  • Sudden pain during insertion or movement of the catheter
  • Potential for embolization of the catheter fragment
Management:
  • Avoid using excessive force during insertion.
  • If suspected, discontinue IV immediately and contact medical control for further instructions, which may include imaging to locate the fragment.

6. VASOVAGAL REACTIONS

Definition: Reflex reaction to pain or anxiety causing sudden drop in heart rate and blood pressure.
Presentation:
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Pale skin and sweating
  • Fainting or near fainting
Management:
  • Lay the patient flat and elevate the legs.
  • Loosen any tight clothing.
  • Provide reassurance and monitor vital signs.

7. PHLEBITIS

Definition: Inflammation of the vein.
Presentation:
  • Redness and warmth along the vein
  • Tenderness or pain at the site
  • A palpable cord-like vein
Management:
  • Discontinue the IV.
  • Apply a warm compress.
  • Use anti-inflammatory medications if appropriate.

8. INFECTION

Definition: Introduction of bacteria at the insertion site, potentially leading to local or systemic infection.
Presentation:
  • Redness, warmth, and swelling at the site
  • Purulent drainage
  • Fever and chills (systemic infection)
Management:
  • Discontinue the IV.
  • Clean the site and cover with a sterile dressing.
  • Notify medical control for possible antibiotic treatment.

PREVENTION TIPS

  • Aseptic Technique: Always use aseptic technique during insertion.
  • Proper Site Selection: Choose an appropriate site and avoid joints or areas with poor circulation.
  • Securement: Secure the catheter well to prevent movement.
  • Monitoring: Regularly check the IV site for signs of complications.

By recognizing and managing these complications promptly, EMS Providers can ensure patient safety and improve outcomes during IV therapy.

Further Reading:

Alexander, M. & Belle, R. (2017) Advanced EMT: A Clinical Reasoning Approach (2nd Ed). Hoboken, New Jersey: Pearson Education

Bledsoe, B. E., Cherry, R. A. & Porter, R. S (2023) Paramedic Care: Principles and Practice (6th Ed) Boston, Massachusetts: Pearson

Hantke, J (2022) IV Placement and Management. Appropedia. Accessed May 22, 2024.

Mistovich, J. J. & Karren, K. J. (2014) Prehospital Emergency Care (11th Ed). Hoboken, New Jersey: Pearson Education

Peate, I. & Sawyer, S (2024) Fundamentals of Applied Pathophysiology for Paramedics. Hoboken, New Jersey:  Wiley Blackwell

Sunday, June 02, 2024

EMS Medication Administration - Intravenous (IV) Catheter Placement


IV catheter placement is a critical skill for EMS Providers who are at the level of AEMT or above, in most states. Proper technique ensures effective treatment and minimizes complications.
Here are the recommended steps for IV catheter placement:
Preparation
Gather Supplies:
  • IV catheter (appropriate gauge)
  • Tourniquet
  • Antiseptic wipes (e.g., alcohol, chlorhexidine)
  • Sterile gauze
  • Adhesive dressing or securement device
  • IV extension set or saline lock
  • Saline flush
  • Tape
Gloves and other personal protective equipment (PPE)
Patient Assessment:
Identify a suitable vein: Look for a prominent, straight vein.
Consider patient-specific factors: Age, condition, hydration status, and vein quality.
Explain Procedure:
Inform the patient about the procedure to gain their cooperation and reduce anxiety.
Insertion
Prepare the Site:
Apply the tourniquet above the chosen site to engorge the vein.
Palpate the vein to confirm its location and direction.
Cleanse the site thoroughly with antiseptic wipes in a circular motion, starting from the center and moving outward. Allow the site to dry.
Insert the Catheter:
Don gloves.
Hold the catheter at a 10-30 degree angle to the skin, bevel up.
Insert the needle into the vein, looking for a flashback of blood in the catheter chamber.
Advance the needle slightly to ensure the catheter tip is in the vein.
Advance the Catheter:
Slide the catheter off the needle into the vein while holding the needle stationary.
Release the tourniquet once the catheter is fully advanced.
Securing and Flushing
Remove the Needle:
Retract the needle completely, and dispose of it in a sharps container.
Secure the Catheter:
Connect the IV extension set or saline lock.
Flush the catheter with saline to ensure patency.
Secure the catheter with an adhesive dressing or a securement device to prevent dislodgement.
Tape the IV tubing in place if connected to a fluid bag.
Monitoring and Documentation
Monitor the Site:
Check for signs of infiltration, phlebitis, or infection.
Monitor the patient's response to the IV.
Documentation:
Record the size of the catheter, insertion site, time, date, and any complications or observations.
Troubleshooting
If Initial Attempt Fails:
Reassess vein selection and technique.
Try another site or use a smaller gauge catheter.
Consider alternative access methods, such as intraosseous (IO), if IV access remains difficult and is urgently needed.
Post-Insertion Care
Patient Comfort:
Ensure the patient is comfortable and the IV site is not causing pain or discomfort.
Educate the patient on how to care for the IV site if it will remain in place for an extended period.
By following these steps, EMS Providers at the appropriate level can effectively and safely place IV catheters, ensuring optimal patient care and minimizing potential complications.

Further Reading:

Alexander, M. & Belle, R. (2017) Advanced EMT: A Clinical Reasoning Approach (2nd Ed). Hoboken, New Jersey: Pearson Education

Bledsoe, B. E., Cherry, R. A. & Porter, R. S (2023) Paramedic Care: Principles and Practice (6th Ed) Boston, Massachusetts: Pearson

Hantke, J (2022) IV Placement and Management. Appropedia. Accessed May 22, 2024.

Mistovich, J. J. & Karren, K. J. (2014) Prehospital Emergency Care (11th Ed). Hoboken, New Jersey: Pearson Education

Peate, I. & Sawyer, S (2024) Fundamentals of Applied Pathophysiology for Paramedics. Hoboken, New Jersey:  Wiley Blackwell

Friday, May 31, 2024

EMS Medication Administration - Intravenous (IV) Catheter Gauges


Intravenous (IV) catheter gauges are critical tools for EMS (Emergency Medical Services) providers, and understanding their use is essential for effective patient care.

Here are the key points EMS Providers need to know about IV catheter gauges:
1. Gauge Size and Flow Rate
Gauge Number: The gauge number refers to the diameter of the IV catheter; a higher number indicates a smaller diameter.
Common Gauges Include:
  • 14-16 gauge: Large bore for rapid fluid resuscitation or blood transfusions.
  • 18 gauge: General use, including blood administration.
  • 20 gauge: Suitable for most IV medications and fluids.
  • 22-24 gauge: Smaller veins, pediatric patients, or the elderly.
Flow Rate: Larger catheters (lower gauge numbers) allow higher flow rates, essential in emergencies where rapid fluid or blood administration is required.
2. Clinical Indications
  • 14-16 gauge: Trauma, major surgery, massive transfusion protocols.
  • 18 gauge: Stable patients needing blood products, fluid resuscitation, or certain medications.
  • 20 gauge: Routine IV access for medications and fluids.
  • 22-24 gauge: Patients with fragile veins, such as children and the elderly, or when slower administration rates are acceptable.
3. Vein Selection
Larger Gauges: Preferable in larger, more central veins (antecubital fossa) to minimize complications and maximize flow rates.
Smaller Gauges: Suitable for smaller peripheral veins (hand, wrist) and for patients with fragile veins.
4. Insertion Technique
Skill and Experience: Proper insertion technique reduces complications like infiltration, phlebitis, and infection. Training and experience in venipuncture are crucial.
Stabilization: Secure the catheter to prevent dislodgement, especially in pre-hospital settings where patients may be moved frequently.
5. Complications
Infiltration and Extravasation: Fluid or medication leaks into surrounding tissue. Larger gauges have higher risks if not properly secured.
Phlebitis: Inflammation of the vein, more common with larger catheters or prolonged use.
Infection: Strict aseptic technique during insertion and maintenance is essential to prevent infections.
6. Special Considerations
Pediatric Patients: Use smaller gauges (22-24) to minimize trauma to delicate veins.
Geriatric Patients: Often have fragile veins; use smaller gauges and gentle techniques.
Medication Compatibility:
Some medications require specific gauge sizes to prevent damage to blood cells or ensure effective delivery.
7. Alternative Access
Intraosseous (IO) Access: In emergencies where IV access is difficult or impossible, intraosseous access may be used, particularly in cardiac arrest or severe trauma situations.
8. Documentation and Communication
Document the size of the catheter, insertion site, number of attempts, and any complications.
Communicate any issues encountered during IV insertion to the receiving medical facility.
9. Ongoing Education
Continuous education and practice are necessary to maintain proficiency in IV catheter insertion and management. This includes staying updated on the latest guidelines and best practices.
By understanding these key points, EMS Providers can make informed decisions about IV catheter selection and insertion, ultimately improving patient outcomes in emergency situations.
Further Reading:
Alexander, M. & Belle, R. (2017) Advanced EMT: A Clinical Reasoning Approach (2nd Ed). Hoboken, New Jersey: Pearson Education
Bledsoe, B. E., Cherry, R. A. & Porter, R. S (2023) Paramedic Care: Principles and Practice (6th Ed) Boston, Massachusetts: Pearson
Mistovich, J. J. & Karren, K. J. (2014) Prehospital Emergency Care (11th Ed). Hoboken, New Jersey: Pearson Education
Peate, I. & Sawyer, S (2024) Fundamentals of Applied Pathophysiology for Paramedics. Hoboken, New Jersey:  Wiley Blackwell