Your IV Site: Care Instructions

IV site on the inside of the left elbow

Your Care Instructions

Medicines or fluids may be given through an intravenous (IV) tube inserted into a vein. The IV is most often placed in the back of the hand, on the forearm, or on the inside of the elbow.

When the IV is in place, medicines or fluids can go quickly into the bloodstream and into the rest of the body. The IV can also be used to take blood for testing.

If you had an IV while you were in the hospital, the area where it went into your body may be tender for a while.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Check the area for bruising or swelling for a few days after you get home.
  • If you have bruising or swelling, put ice or a cold pack on the area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
  • Shower or bathe as usual.
  • Be gentle using the area around the IV site for a day or two. But you should be able to do your normal activities.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You notice a lump at the IV site.
  • You notice new or worse bruising at the IV site.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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