set, or around the administration site when the product is administered. The infection
can be localized or systemic.
b. Infiltration. Infiltration occurs when the needle or catheter through which the
product is entering the veins is removed from the vein. In this case the fluid enters the
tissue surrounding the vein. Although this condition is not usually serious, it can be very
uncomfortable for the patient. To remedy this problem, the product is started in another
c. Phlebitis. Phlebitis is the inflammation of vein tissue. Phlebitis is caused by
mechanical, chemical, or bacterial irritation. This condition is characterized by pain and
redness at the administration site. When phlebitis occurs, the solution is usually
administered at a different site.
d. Pyrogenic Reaction. A pyrogenic reaction is one in which the patient's body
temperature increases after certain types of substances enter the circulatory system.
Bacteria (or their parts), various chemicals, and certain types of particles are capable of
causing a pyrogenic reaction. A pyrogenic reaction is characterized by chills followed
by a fever.
e. Circulatory Overload. The "average" person has a blood volume of
approximately five liters. Blood is approximately 93 percent fluid. The body has
intricate mechanisms for compensating with changes in blood volume. For example,
when you give blood, some fluid from the inside of the cells as well as fluid surrounding
the cells enters the circulating blood volume. Likewise, there is a reverse flow when the
blood volume is normal and intravenous fluids are administered. Unfortunately, when
too much fluid is administered too rapidly circulatory overload can result. When
circulatory overload occurs, the heart cannot efficiently pump the blood. Circulatory
overload is a potentially dangerous condition which must be treated by the physician.
f. Air Embolism. An air embolism occurs when a sizeable volume of air enters
the circulatory system. An air embolism can be caused by the movement of air through
the intravenous administration set into the circulatory system. This can occur when the
intravenous administration set has not been properly "bled" (i.e., had all the air replaced
by intravenous solution) or by an intravenous solution or admixture bottle which has
been allowed to empty completely resulting in air flow down the administration set. An
air embolism is potentially dangerous because an air bubble can occlude cardiac,
cerebral, or pulmonary circulation.
g. Thrombus. A thrombus is a clot which is formed in the blood vessels. A
thrombus is usually a further complication of phlebitis. A clot formed in the vessels can
produce damage to tissue below the stoppage.