What is Intravenous Fluid Regulation?
When you have fluids administered by an intravenous
(IV) line, the amount of fluids going into your body must be regulated. There
are different ways to regulate the flow in an IV, including manually adjusting
the rate and using an electric pump. Regardless of how it is regulated, medical
caregivers must check IVs regularly to ensure that the correct dosage and rate
of flow are being administered.
Intravenous fluid regulation
is the control of the amount of fluids a patient receives when getting
treatment via the administration of fluids through a blood vessel, usually a
vein. There are many reasons to be administered fluids intravenously. All of
these require control of the amount given. If there is no control, the rate of
fluid administration relies on gravity alone. This can result in a patient receiving
either too much or too little.
Purpose of Intravenous Fluid Administration and Regulation
There are several reasons
why a patient might need to have fluids administered intravenously. This typically
involves injecting fluid through a vein, usually on the arm. Fluids used are
water with either salt, sugar, or medications added in concentrations that
depend on the individual. IV treatments include:
after being dehydrated from illness or excessive activity
- antibiotics to
treat an infection
drugs for cancer treatment
- medications for
the treatment of pain
Rate and quantity of
intravenous fluid depends on medical condition, body size, and age. Regulation
ensures the correct amount of fluid drips from the bag down the tube into the
vein at the correct rate. Complications can result from receiving too much, too
quickly, or not enough, too slowly.
Types of Intravenous Fluid Regulation
There are two ways to
regulate the amount and rate of fluids given during intravenous therapy.
The rate of fluid
dripping from a bag into an IV can be regulated through a manual technique. A
nurse or other caregiver increases or decreases the pressure that a clamp puts
on the IV tube to either slow or speed the rate of flow. The caregiver can
count the number of drops per minute to make sure the rate of flow is correct,
and adjust as needed.
The rate can also be
modulated with an electric pump. The caregiver programs the pump to deliver the
desired amount of fluid into the IV at the correct rate. Whether done manually
or with a pump, IVs must be checked regularly to be sure the patient is getting
the correct amount of fluid.
What to Expect During Intravenous Fluid Regulation
A doctor must first
determine the type of fluid a patient needs, as well as the amount and the rate
at which it will be delivered. A nurse will then disinfect the skin over the
injection site, locate a vein, and insert the needle for the IV catheter. It
will sting a little when the needle goes in, but after that there should be no
The caregiver will then
adjust the IV manually or with a pump to set it to the correct rate of flow.
Someone will check back regularly to make sure the patient is doing well and
that the IV is delivering the fluid correctly. If there are any problems with
the flow, it will be adjusted.
Complications Associated with Intravenous Fluid Regulation
There are a few minor risks
associated with receiving intravenous fluids. These include infection at the
needle site, a dislodged needle, or a collapsed vein. All of these are easily
corrected or treated. A dislodged needle can be avoided by staying very still
during fluid administration. A collapsed vein is more likely to occur if a
patient needs to have a needle inserted for an extended period of time.
Complications related to the
regulation of administered fluids include giving too much fluid too rapidly,
called overload. Alternately, not enough fluid or fluid released too slowly can
Overload can cause symptoms
such as a headache, high blood pressure, anxiety, and trouble breathing. Some
overload can be tolerated by healthy patients, but in those with other health
problems, it can be dangerous.
The symptoms of a low flow
rate may vary depending on the patient and the reason for having fluids
administered. Mostly, a patient not getting enough fluids will simply not
respond to treatment in the way that is expected.