IV Infiltration Can Cause Nerve Damage, Burns, or Amputation

At some point, your doctor may recommend the use of an IV to effectively deliver necessary fluids or drugs directly into your system. IVs are normally safe and don’t cause injury. However, negligent placement and supervision of an IV can result in serious physical harm. If you suffered an IV infiltration due to a negligent doctor, it is important to seek legal help.

What Is an IV?

Intravenous lines (IVs) are commonly used in medical settings. When an IV is placed in the vein, it allows for the direct delivery of fluid and medications into the bloodstream. 

Doctors and nurses choose IVs over other methods to deliver fluid and medication for several reasons, including the following:

  • Drugs can enter the bloodstream directly rather than going through the digestive system
  • Drugs work quicker and more efficiently when given through an IV
  • Drugs and fluids are administered over time rather than all at once

Nurses can place IV lines in multiple areas, including the back of the elbow, forearm, or hand. A needle guides the catheter into the vein, which is attached to IV bags or syringes holding medications and fluids.  

How Do IVs Cause Injuries?

IVs are generally safe to use. However, under certain unfortunate circumstances, they can cause serious injury to patients. For every IV placed, about 50% fail

IV infiltration is one of the common causes of injury due to IV placement. Infiltration refers to the leakage of medication and solutions out of the vein and into surrounding tissue. When IV infiltration goes unnoticed and untreated, it can result in severe injuries. 

Infiltration can happen for numerous reasons, most commonly including:

  • The catheter puncturing the wall of the vein
  • The catheter backing out of the insertion site
  • Leakage from the insertion site

IV infiltration produces certain signs that trained nurses and medical staff should be able to detect rather quickly, like:

  • Swelling at the IV site
  • Pain, burning, and discomfort
  • Tightness of the skin
  • Discoloration
  • Impaired blood circulation
  • Numbness

When treated right away, infiltration will not cause permanent damage. Nonetheless, negligence by a medical professional can cause the infiltration to go unnoticed, which could result in substantial physical harm. 

Types of Injuries IV Infiltration Can Produce

Complications from IV infiltration can leave you facing serious medical complications. Nerve damage, burns, and amputations are some of the worst.

Nerve Damage

Certain medications, like neurotoxic drugs, can cause nerve damage if they leak out of the vein. 

Nerve damage from IV infiltration can result in lifelong issues, including:

  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Tingling
  • Pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Loss of dexterity

The location of the nerve damage depends on the area where your IV was inserted. For example, if your IV was placed on your forearm, you may experience these symptoms throughout the affected arm. 


Certain drugs can negatively interact with the surrounding skin tissue, muscle, and fat, causing serious irritation. In the most severe cases, infiltration can cause second and third-degree burns, resulting in the need for extensive medical care.


Compartment Syndrome is a common but severe outcome of IV infiltration. This syndrome occurs when tissue swelling is so serious that it squeezes and constricts the blood vessels in the area, causing the cells to die.

Doctors can employ certain measures to try to relieve the swelling. But if not treated in time, it’s unlikely to restore proper circulation. When the tissue dies, amputation may become necessary. 

If you’ve suffered harm as a result of IV treatment, do not wait to get legal advice and discuss your situation with a qualified injury attorney. A medical malpractice lawyer can determine the cause of your injury and work diligently to hold the responsible party accountable for their wrongdoing. 

Contact Our Chicago Medical Malpractice Law Firm For Help Today

If you’ve been injured in an accident in ChicagoIllinois, and need legal help, contact our experienced medical malpractice lawyers at Attorneys of Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation today.

We proudly serve Cook County and its surrounding areas:

Attorneys of Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers
134 N La Salle St #2160
Chicago, IL 60602

Phone: (312) 929-2884