When we are sick or injured and head to the doctor or hospital for care, our expectation is that they will improve our condition – not make it worse. The phrase, “first, do no harm” is popular among medical professionals, but it is not always accurate. Even a seemingly simple practice such as placing an IV may cause serious complications or death if done incorrectly. Although placing and administering an IV is one of the most common tasks that medical staff in hospitals and medical centers perform daily, it can sometimes go wrong, resulting in IV infiltration. When an IV is placed incorrectly, the patient pays the price in painful complications.
If you or a loved one received medical treatment and suffered complications due to negligent IV infiltration, you may be wondering if you can file a medical malpractice claim. The answer is yes. Depending on the specific details of your case and the injuries you suffered as a result of the IV infiltration, you may be entitled to significant compensation. It is important to speak with a New Jersey medical malpractice attorney who has experience handling negligent IV infiltration cases.
What is IV infiltration?
A peripheral IV is an intravenous catheter (a thin, flexible tube) that is inserted into a patient’s vein in order to supply saline, medications, nutrients, or other vital fluids. IVs are used during surgeries, medical emergencies, and some non-emergency procedures and situations. IV infiltration occurs when non-vesicant fluid, or fluid that does not irritate tissue, leaks into the surrounding tissue.
IV extravasation occurs when vesicant fluid, or fluid that does irritate tissue, leaks into the surrounding tissue. Medications that are classified as vesicants can cause more damage to tissue than non-vesicants, including tissue damage such as blistering and ulceration, making IV extravasation especially dangerous.
What causes IV infiltration?
While a patient’s movements may cause an IV to slip out or through a blood vessel, most IV infiltrations and extravasations are the result of improper IV placement or dislodgement by nurses or other medical staff. IV dislodgement occurs when medical staff do not properly secure the IV at the insertion site.
Negligent IV infiltration and IV extravasation are often made worse by medical staff who do not adequately monitor a patient while he or she is receiving IV therapy. Without proper monitoring, an IV infiltration or IV extravasation and the accompanying symptoms may go undetected for a longer period of time, potentially causing severe complications or even death.
What are the main complications of IV filtration?
If an IV infiltration or IV extravasation goes undetected for a significant amount of time, it is more likely to cause severe injuries. Even when detected quickly, serious complications or side effects may occur.
An IV infiltration may cause a variety of complications, ranging from minor to severe, including:
- Compartment syndrome, a painful condition caused by the buildup of pressure from leaked fluids
- Infections, including serious infections
- Nerve damage which can be temporary or permanent
- Reduced use of affected limbs, possibly resulting in amputation
- Ruptured veins
- Scarring, including severe scarring that requires skin graft surgery
- Skin damage such as blisters, sores, and ulcers
- Swelling which may become so severe that surgery or amputation is required
If severe enough and not treated properly and in a timely manner, any of these complications may lead to permanent injury or death.
What are the common symptoms of negligent IV infiltration?
Symptoms of IV infiltration typically include swelling, pain, and cold or “clammy” skin around the IV insertion site. Patients may also experience a “burning” sensation on their skin near or around the point where the IV was inserted.
Can IV infiltration cause nerve damage?
Yes, IV infiltration can damage the nerves wherever the IV was inserted. An IV may be inserted into a vein in a patient’s hand, arm, foot, leg, or scalp. An IV infiltration that occurs in the hand may cause ongoing numbness or tingling and can result in loss of hand function. The same can be said of nerve damage in the foot or leg, which may cause pain or difficulty walking.
It is important to note that while some nerve damage may be temporary, an IV infiltration can cause permanent nerve damage. Even temporary nerve damage may take anywhere from a few weeks to a year to heal.
How long do I have to file my IV infiltration medical malpractice claim in NJ?
New Jersey’s statute of limitations for medical malpractice is two years. This means that you have two years from the date you suffered harm as a result of negligence on the part of a doctor, nurse, other medical staff, or hospital, medical center, or other medical group or entity. Typically, if you miss this deadline, a judge will dismiss your case. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.
In New Jersey, there is a “discovery rule” for medical malpractice cases. According to the discovery rule, the filing deadline for a medical malpractice claim is two years from the date when you discovered, or could reasonably be expected to discover, that the harm you suffered or are suffering from was caused by a doctor or other healthcare provider. Under the discovery rule, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff – the person filing the claim – to prove that they could not have known about the alleged malpractice at the time it occurred.
Other exceptions to the statute of limitations include age-related cases. For example, if a patient was a minor when the medical error occurred, they have until two years after they turn 18 to file a claim. Similarly, medical malpractice claims for injuries that happened when a child was born must be filed before the child turns 13.
I have complications from negligent IV infiltration. What should I do?
IV mistakes such as IV infiltration and IV extravasation can be serious – and seriously painful. The complications and side effects may require ongoing medical treatment and painful procedures including skin grafts or amputation. Or, you may be left with permanent scarring, limited mobility in the affected limb, or without the affected limb.
If you or a loved one were injured as the result of negligent IV infiltration, it is imperative that you consult an experienced New Jersey medical malpractice attorney. The certified trial attorneys at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow, LLP have won significant awards for medical malpractice clients. We understand the true cost of negligent IV infiltration and do not settle for the paltry amounts hospitals and insurance companies attempt to offer as compensation. From our offices in Edison, Red Bank and Toms River we represent clients throughout New Jersey. Call us today at 732-777-0100 or complete our contact form today to schedule a consultation with an attorney.
Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow, LLP has purposely remained small in size, because it is important to us that we get to know our clients and their needs. Larger NJ injury firms may churn out case after case, but that’s not how we operate. Partners Barry Eichen, William Crutchlow, and Daryl Zaslow have created a firm with the resources to handle complex litigation, and a team that takes your case personally.
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