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Advanced IV Therapy Techniques

Part of the IV Therapy For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Everyone agrees that IV infusions are the fastest way to deliver medications to a patient's bloodstream, but did you know you can deliver IV meds even faster by using the following two advanced techniques? The first technique, the IV push, involves the nurse pushing medication from a syringe directly into the patient's vein. The second, the IV piggyback, uses gravity to allow a secondary infusion to go before the primary infusion. Here's a little more info about each technique:

  • IV push: An IV push, also called an IV bolus, is the administration of more concentrated IV medications from a syringe directly into the bloodstream. It's one of the quickest and most effective ways to deliver drugs into the bloodstream, but it's also one of the fastest ways to induce adverse drug reactions. To prevent complications, IV nurses usually dilute IV push medications and deliver them slowly over several minutes.

  • Piggyback administration: This useful IV technique involves hanging a smaller, secondary piggyback infusion bag at least 6 inches higher than the primary infusion bag. From its higher position, the piggyback solution infuses first, and then the primary infusion automatically resumes flow, reducing the possibility for empty-bag air embolism. Nurses use piggyback infusions, sometimes referred to as IVPBs, to deliver a small volume of fluid or dosage of medication over a short period of time.

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