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:
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.
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.
Record the size of the catheter, insertion site, time, date, and any complications or observations.
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

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