Intravenous (IV) therapy is an effective way to administer medication and fluids directly to the body. Its uses include delivery of antibiotics, antiarrhythmics and many other types of medications, as well as the infusion of fluids to maintain blood pressure and electrolyte balances. As in any medical procedure, there are risks involved to patients, some of which may be lethal. It is the nurse’s responsibility to install an IV line using aseptic technique, secure the line and to ensure that the infusion of fluids and medications are properly maintained. It is also the nurse who is responsible for assessing and recognizing potential complications associated with IV therapy, reporting to the provider and documenting the condition of the patient.
Despite its importance, many of the skills a nurse needs to complete this assignment are not learned in nursing school. Instead, new nurses are expected to have on-the-job training. Many hospitals and other facilities are now requiring nurses to have supplemental certification in this area prior to beginning work.
This two-part class is intended to give you the skills and confidence needed to effectively start, manage and discontinue IVs. The class will also help you learn how to recognize potential infection and infiltration and how to complete your documentation. Part one is designed to be completed online at your convenience and covers more than you ever wanted to know about starting and managing IVs. Part two is designed to be completed in our classroom either one-on-one or in a small group with a paramedic-instructor. During part two, you will practice starting an IV on a manikin arm.
Especially as a beginner, starting an IV may be a bit more difficult than it looks. While completing this class might make starting an IV sound easy, nurses often wage a constant war against the veins that roll, blow without warning, or just seem to be in a perpetual state of hiding. Until you have lots of practice (and even after that), you may find it extremely frustrating. Do not get discouraged, follow the procedures you learn here, and keep at it. You will get better with time. Write down your questions and bring them with you to Part Two of the class.