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Everyone is nervous about starting IVs but I’ll tell you right now: it’s not as scary as it seems.  There’s a few tricks that will make it easier for you:

  • hold the gauze in your left hand so it’s easy to reach when you disconnect the catheter
  • hold the catheter with your thumb and 3rd finger so you can advance it with your second finger
  • when the catheter is in and stable, use your non dominant hand to push down on the vein proximal to the IV site (it will prevent blood from spewing out)
  • advance the needle initially at a 45 degree angle, fill the chamber with blood, THEN level the needle parallel to the skin and advance catheter (many people don’t level down and end up busting through the vein)

These are things that won’t even make sense to you if you haven’t tried to start an IV yet so don’t worry.  These things also won’t make sense if you don’t understand how an IV catheter actually works.  So here’s a breakdown:

It's hard to tell in this picture but there is a plastic catheter around the needle.  The catheter is what you advance into the patient's skin, not the needle.  The needle simply punctures the vein.

It’s hard to tell in this picture but there is a plastic catheter around the needle. The catheter is what you advance into the patient’s vein, not the needle. The needle simply punctures the vein initially; you then take the needle out while the catheter stays in.

Catheter_dissasembled

Here are all the parts: plastic catheter sheath that goes over the needle, the filter (where the blood will collect), the case and cap.

You see how the needle punctures the vein but the catheter stays in as you pull the needle out?  And that's how it works!

You see how the needle punctures the vein but the catheter stays in as you pull the needle out? And that’s how it works!

I think this video is good.  They give nice tips and his technique is very similar to how I do it.

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