Why you may be awakened during your hospital stay

Thomas Welch, MD (center), with a group of medical residents and students at the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital. (PHOTO BY SUSAN KAHN)

Keeping patients safe sometimes involves disturbing them in the middle of the night, explains pediatrics chief Thomas Welch, MD, the medical director of the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital.

Fluids or medications can leak from a patient’s intravenous line into surrounding tissue if the IV gets jostled after it’s placed. It’s called IV infiltration. Complications can be serious, but damage can be minimized if it’s caught early.

This complication goes by the name “peripheral IV infiltration and extravasation,” or “pivie.”  Welch explained that the children’s hospital is part of a national consortium of children’s hospitals looking at the causes and prevention of pivies.

That is why nurses inspect intravenous sites at regular intervals, around the clock, during a hospital stay.

Welch says what may seem like a bothersome intrusion is a critical component of an effort to protect patients from adverse events. And depending on a patient’s sleeping position, nurses may be able to see and feel the IV while their patients remain sound asleep.

This article appears in the summer 2017 issue of Upstate Health magazine.

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