IV Therapy Then and Now: An Evolution in Patient Care and Safety

Modern IV stabilization tools, such as the 330L I.V. House UltraDressing, protect patients from harm by preventing movement of the IV catheter.

Intravenous (IV) therapy has undergone a remarkable evolution over the centuries, transitioning from rudimentary and high-risk procedures to today’s sophisticated, patient-centric practices. This progress symbolizes medicine’s relentless pursuit of advancement and excellence in enhancing patient outcomes and safety. Read on to learn about critical developments in IV therapy, techniques, and technology.

The Origins of IV Therapy

While IV therapy is commonplace today, its origins trace back to early experiments with IV blood transfusions in the late 15th century. The first transfusion device that emerged was invented by Sir Christopher Wren in the 17th century. This pioneering invention employed tools like pig bladders and quills to enable direct vein transfusions in dogs.

Over the next 200 years, progress was incremental as clinicians explored variations of animal-to-human and later human-to-human transfusions. However, IV therapy remained an extremely high-risk procedure, and there was a need for more knowledge and technology. IV practices became widely adopted in the 20th century, catalyzed by the urgent medical needs of World War II. The 1950s saw the rollout of specialized IV equipment, such as plastic infusion bags and pumps, helping drive mainstream hospital adoption.

IV Stabilization Tools

IV site stabilization and patient comfort posed significant challenges for early IV therapy. Armboards have traditionally been used to stabilize areas of flexion, such as the hand, wrist, elbow, and foot. Most conventional armboards feature simple designs: a flat board with or without straps to fasten it to the limb. Some flat boards require nurses to use tape to fasten the board to the limb. They are not specific to a particular anatomical area, which enables nurses to use one product for several different IV placement sites.

Modern IV armboards and splints, such as the TLC Splint, showcase progress for patient safety and comfort. They employ thoughtful ergonomic designs to secure IV sites without compromising patient comfort. This ensures stability and provides greater access to the IV site for routine assessments, mitigating risks like infiltration or phlebitis.

However, despite the innovations made in IV stabilizing tools, many hospitals still use traditional armboards.

“I have been a pediatric nurse in my unit for 22 years,” said Carol G. “We have used the same arm boards and immobilizers since I started working there.” She came across I.V. House’s TLC Splint while searching online for products that would allow nurses to easily assess IV sites and detect infiltrates earlier. A team of nurses at Carol’s hospital was researching how to reduce IV site complications, so Carol requested samples of IV House products for the nurses to test in the study.

After finding the products to be effective at reducing IV site complications, the hospital decided to approve the products for purchase.

Advancements in Assessment and Training

Current IV practices represent the blending of proven traditional techniques with innovations. For instance, visual inspection of the IV site has long been a standard procedure. However, the invention of transparent dressings has refined this technique by removing visual obstructions. This exemplifies how medical advancement is often iterative, enhancing traditional methods through technology.

An example is the intuitive “touch, look, compare” technique, which was developed by a large pediatric hospital and implemented by I.V. House. The Touch, Look, Compare process helps nurses remember the steps for successfully protecting and maintaining a patient’s IV insertion site. First, the IV site is palpated to detect abnormalities like swelling or tenderness. Next, assessment of the IV insertion site is done to ensure the site is clean, dry, intact and within normal limits. Finally, comparing the IV site with the opposite limb pinpoints subtle changes needing attention. This demonstrates how applying nurses’ assessment techniques systematically enhances patient care.

As IV products and techniques have advanced, comprehensive training programs have had to advance with them. Healthcare professionals require thorough education in these evolving technologies to guarantee optimal utilization and patient outcomes. Facility-wide initiatives, online learning, and bedside instruction have helped further ongoing training and continuing education on new methods and equipment.

I.V. House staff, for example, will perform on-site training for nurses to help ensure successful rollouts of I.V. House products. The team will even come in multiple days during multiple shifts to make sure all nurses feel comfortable using the new products.

The Future of IV Therapy

Ultimately, the driving motivation behind each stage of IV therapy’s evolution has been enhancing patient care, safety, and comfort. This patient-centric philosophy remains the compass guiding future innovation. Emerging solutions in monitoring, smart devices, stabilization, and pump technologies will likely shape next-generation advancements. However, the emphasis must stay on patient-focused solutions integrating innovation with evidence-based practice. Technology will continue advancing, but must always promote positive patient experiences and outcomes.

I.V. House has contributed to the advancement of IV therapy through its innovative IV therapy joint stabilization and IV insertion site protection products, improving patient safety and increasing nurse efficiency to leading hospitals worldwide. This is why hospitals around the world use I.V. House products. In fact, 70% of the 2022-2023 U.S. News and World Report Best Children’s Hospitals list of 10 Honor Roll hospitals were I.V. House customers.

Order a sample and see how far IV therapy products have come!