Can You File a Medical Malpractice Claim for Negligent IV Infiltration?

by vtaylor
Can you file a medical malpractice claim for negligent IV infiltration

Medical treatments are often a source of reassurance, with the expectation that they will improve our health, not worsen it. Intravenous (IV) therapy, a common and necessary medical procedure, is no exception. However, when negligent IV infiltration occurs, the consequences can be severe, leading to complications that may necessitate legal recourse. Understanding the nuances of this issue and the possibility of a medical malpractice claim is paramount for those who have experienced harm or have loved ones affected.

Key Takeaways

  • IV infiltration occurs when fluids deviate, permeating surrounding tissues, leading to complications, emphasizing the need for timely intervention.
  • Improper placement or staff negligence commonly causes IV infiltration, with inadequate monitoring during IV therapy escalating complications.
  • Negligent IV infiltration results from staff errors, breaching the duty of care.
  • Complications range from discomfort to severe consequences like compartment syndrome, infections, nerve damage, and even death.
  • Victims in Pennsylvania can file medical malpractice claims, seeking guidance from experienced attorneys for compensation.

When is IV Used?

Intravenous (IV) therapy stands as a fundamental and adaptable medical intervention utilized across a spectrum of medical scenarios. It entails the direct administration of fluids, medications, or vital nutrients into a patient’s vein. This versatility allows for its application in an array of situations, ranging from intricate surgical procedures and critical emergencies to selected non-emergency medical circumstances.

For example, in the emergency room, IV therapy can facilitate the precise and swift delivery of medications and maintain optimal fluid balance. Even in non-emergency medical situations, IV therapy can be employed for various treatments, ensuring a direct and efficient pathway for therapeutic substances.

What is IV Infiltration?

IV infiltration occurs when the intended path of fluids, typically non-vesicant substances designed not to irritate tissue, deviates from its course and permeates the surrounding tissue. This misdirection can lead to a spectrum of complications, varying in severity and impact on the patient’s well-being.

The intricate network of veins, arteries, and surrounding tissues is designed to safeguard the systemic circulation of fluids. However, when an IV procedure goes awry, these fluids infiltrate the adjacent tissues, initiating a cascade of potential issues. While IV therapy is generally a safe and effective method, infiltration introduces an unintended avenue for substances to interact with the body outside the confines of the circulatory system.

What Causes IV Infiltration?

Although IV infiltration can be caused by a patient moving around and the needle slipping out or through the blood vessel, the most common cause is due to improper placement or dislodgment. The IV will dislodge or move when nurses or other hospital staff insert the needle incorrectly or when the IV needle has not been properly secured to the insertion site.

IV infiltration and extravasation are exacerbated when medical staff do not monitor the patient as they receive IV therapy. If the IV infiltration is not noticed, negative symptoms and complications may occur—and grow more severe—with time. Unfortunately, some negligent IV infiltration goes unnoticed for so long that some patients die.

When Does IV Infiltration Become Negligent?

IV infiltration becomes negligent when it occurs due to improper placement or accidental dislodgment by medical staff, leading to harm or complications for the patient. While this may be accidental, healthcare providers are entrusted with the “duty of care” and also to “do no harm” to their patients. As such, they must ensure the correct placement and securement of IVs. Should this duty of care be breached by IV infiltration or extravasation that harms the patient, it may be considered medical negligence or medical malpractice.

Common Symptoms of Negligent IV Infiltration?

Recognizing the early symptoms of negligent IV infiltration is crucial for prompt intervention and minimizing the potential for complications. Patients and healthcare providers alike should remain vigilant for the following signs:

  • Swelling: Noticeable swelling around the IV insertion site is a primary indicator of infiltration.
  • Pain: Patients may experience localized pain in the vicinity of the IV, signaling potential complications.
  • Cold or “Clammy” Skin: An unusual change in skin temperature, particularly cold or clammy sensations, may suggest infiltration.
  • Burning Sensation: Patients may report a burning sensation near or around the point where the IV was inserted, indicating a potential issue.
  • Restricted Mobility: Diminished movement or functionality of the affected limb may signify infiltration-related complications.

What Complications Are Caused By IV Infiltration?

The complications stemming from IV infiltration are multifaceted, ranging from discomfort to severe, life-altering consequences. Each complication underscores the critical need for swift and attentive responses to address IV infiltration promptly. Here is an in-depth exploration of the potential complications:

  • Compartment Syndrome: This painful condition arises due to the accumulation of pressure from leaked fluids, leading to potential damage to nerves and muscles within a confined space.
  • Infections: IV infiltration can introduce foreign substances into surrounding tissues, increasing the risk of infections. Serious infections can emerge, posing a threat to overall health.
  • Necrosis: Tissue necrosis, or cell death, may occur as a result of compromised blood supply due to infiltrated fluids, leading to potentially irreversible damage.
  • Nerve Damage: IV infiltration can result in nerve damage, causing sensations of numbness, tingling, or even loss of function in the affected limb.
  • Diminished Limb Function: Infiltration may restrict the normal function of the affected limb, potentially leading to reduced mobility or functionality.
  • Ruptured Veins: The forceful influx of fluids into the tissues may cause veins to rupture, exacerbating the complications associated with IV infiltration.
  • Scarring: Severe scarring may develop, necessitating additional medical interventions, including skin graft surgery, to address the aesthetic and functional consequences.
  • Skin Damage: Blisters, sores, and ulcers may manifest on the skin around the IV insertion site, further complicating the recovery process.
  • Swelling: Excessive swelling, if left unattended, can become severe enough to warrant surgical intervention or, in extreme cases, amputation.
  • Death: While rare, the most extreme consequence of untreated and severe IV infiltration can be fatal, underscoring the gravity of the situation.

Can Negligent IV Infiltration Cause Nerve Damage?

Yes, it can. Nerve damage is a significant concern arising from negligent IV infiltration. Depending on the location of the infiltration—whether in the hand, arm, foot, leg, or scalp—it can lead to ongoing numbness, tingling, loss of function, pain, or difficulty walking. The potential for permanent nerve damage adds another layer of complexity to the repercussions.

Can You File a Medical Malpractice Claim for IV Infiltration in PA?

Yes, individuals who have suffered harm due to negligent IV infiltration in Pennsylvania can file a medical malpractice claim. Seeking guidance from an experienced medical malpractice attorney is essential to navigate the legal intricacies surrounding the specific details of each case. The legal recourse aims to provide compensation for damages incurred during the IV infiltration incident. An attorney can assess the specifics of the case, ensure all relevant details are considered, and build a compelling case that stands up to legal scrutiny.

What is the Statute of Limitations for Negligent IV Infiltration in Pennsylvania?

If you want to pursue legal compensation for the damages caused by negligent IV infiltration, then you should also understand the time restrictions. Pennsylvania imposes a two-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims, including those related to negligent IV infiltration. This means that individuals generally have two years from the date of the incident to file a claim. However, the “discovery rule” introduces flexibility, allowing for filing within two years from discovering or reasonably expecting harm caused by medical negligence.

The discovery rule is significant in cases where the consequences of medical negligence are not immediately apparent. For IV infiltration incidents, where the harm might manifest over time, this rule becomes a crucial legal provision. It acknowledges that victims may need time to recognize the full extent of the damages caused by negligent IV infiltration before pursuing legal action.

Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney in Philadelphia Today

While intravenous therapy is a fundamental and adaptable medical intervention, its potential for complications, especially when administered negligently, cannot be understated. Patients and their loved ones facing the aftermath of such incidents should be aware of their rights and the possibility of seeking legal redress.

The experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Raynes & Lawn stand ready to provide guidance, advocacy, and support. Please schedule a free consultation with us today by calling 1-800-535-1797 or by filling out the contact form. We will be your dedicated allies in your fight for justice.



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