IV Troubleshooting

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About this medical skill
Parent skills Intravenous Setup/monitoring
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Over-full drip chamber: To deal with an over-full drip chamber, simply invert the bag and the drip chamber, squeeze the drip chamber until about half of the fluid has been expelled back into the bag, and re-hang the IV bag, checking to see that the drips are now visible in the chamber.

Air bubbles in the line: First check that you have an adequately filled drip chamber, and that the line was primed. If small bubbles persist, Holding the IV line taught, repeatedly flick the line with your fingernail at the level of the bubble, floating it up the line into the drip chamber. Always keep the bag hanging above the patient, and do not lay it flat on a gurney next to a patient, as this will risk getting air into the line.

Leaking: Leaking fluid is likely from loose connections, damaged line, or a dislodged spike. Check the integrity of the line and replace the IV tubing if necessary.

Fluid will not run or runs slowly:

  • Roller clamp on tubing is not adjusted correctly
  • Bag is spiked incorrectly
  • Tubing is kinked

Check solution bag and spike connection. Check height of bag, (if gravity infusion). Check to be sure tubing is not clamped or kinked.