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IV Care: Using IV Antibiotics
Antibiotics are medicines that help your body fight infection. Some types of antibiotics can only be given by IV. Always gather and inspect your supplies before starting IV care.
Know your medicine
Read the medicine sheet that comes with the antibiotic. Be aware of any warnings and side effects.
Check the medicine label before starting an IV. Make sure the patient name, the medicine name, and the dose are correct.
Don't use medicine with an expired date.
Don't use medicine that has anything floating in it.
Don't use an IV bag with cracks or tears.
Clean worksite and hands
Wipe the worksite before setting up for IV care. Use alcohol or soap and water. Put supplies on a fresh paper towel.
Wash your hands. Use warm water and liquid soap. Scrub briskly for 1 minute. Wash between your fingers. Rinse.
Dry your hands with a fresh paper towel. Use the paper towel to turn off the water. Set the paper towel aside, and throw it away after the IV care is done.
Handle supplies as directed
Store the antibiotic in a cool, dark place. Refrigerate it if the package says you should.
Before using it, allow the antibiotic to get close to room temperature. Don't heat.
Run an IV as often as prescribed.
Put all used needles and syringes in a special container (sharps container). You can buy a sharps container at a pharmacy or medical supply store. You can also use an empty laundry detergent bottle, or any other puncture-proof container and lid.
When the IV is done, put the used supplies in a plastic bag. Seal the bag and throw it in the trash.
Know these IV basics
Hang the IV bag. The drip chamber should be at least 18 inches above your head.
Wipe all injection sites with alcohol before use.
Clean the catheter exit site as often as directed.
Flush the catheter with saline or heparin as directed.
Be sure all IV supplies are in sealed packets. If germ-free (sterile) packets are open, throw away those supplies.
When to call your healthcare provider
Call your healthcare provider right away if any of the following occur:
Trouble breathing (call 911)
Rash or hives
Fever or chills
Redness near the catheter exit site or at any spot along the catheter line
Swelling in your arm, neck, or chest
Drainage at the exit site
The catheter slips or comes out
The IV fluid doesn’t flow well through the tubing
Break in the tubing
Online Medical Reviewer:
Mancini, Mary, MD
Online Medical Reviewer:
Ziegler, Olivia, MS, PA
Date Last Reviewed:
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