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Practical Procedures
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Giving IV drugs and fluids



  • IV fluids
  • Giving set
  • Cannula
  • Syringe driver/pump

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You might be asked to give drugs IV. This could be as simple as giving an IV bolus through a cannula or giving drugs through a drip. Make sure that you read the instructions provided carefully.

  • Ensure that the cannula is in place and flushes easily with saline.
  • Make sure you know what infusion rate at which to inject the drug – slow bolus through a big vein protects the veins and prevents the cannula from tissuing.

If the drug is diluted in solution (50–500 ml normal saline) or you are asked to put a bag of fluid up on a patient:

  • Put the bag of fluid up on a drip stand.
  • Connect one end of the giving set to the bag and close the valve in the plastic tubing.
  • Squeeze the reservoir so it is half filled with fluid and the remainder drips in.
  • Open the valve and let the remainder of the fluid run through so that no air bubbles remain. When there are no air pockets and fluid runs freely from the end of the giving set, attach to the end of the cannula.
  • Set the drip rate or put tubing through the fluid pump.

Always ask another person to check the drugs that you are administering. Ask them to confirm the drug name, dose, method of delivery, and expiration date. This includes any additives (e.g., KCl).

Always check that you have the correct patient – check the wristband for identification.

Remember that some drugs need to be administered with care. For example, vancomycin must be given as a slow infusion; Pabrinex® (an injectable combination of vitamins B and C) and vitamin K are dangerous if given as a fast bolus. Some drugs are irritants and will need larger veins; the cannula should be well flushed after administering such drugs.

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