Skip to main content
Go to homepage

Intravenous Line (IV)

What Is an IV?

An intravenous line (IV) is a soft, flexible tube placed inside a vein, usually in the hand or arm. Health care providers use IV lines to give a person medicine or fluids.

Who Needs an IV?

Often, babies, kids, and teens who are in the hospital get IVs during their stay, so they can get medicine and fluids easily when they need them.

What Happens During IV Placement?

A specially trained nurse or doctor will:

  1. Find a vein for the IV. Sometimes they apply numbing medicine to the area before placing the IV.
  2. Tie a wide elastic band above the vein.
  3. Clean the skin where the IV will go in.
  4. Insert a thin plastic tube into a vein using a needle.
  5. Remove the needle, leaving the tube in place.
  6. Tape the tube to the child's arm to hold it in place. Sometimes they tape a plastic cover over the IV to protect it.

Can I Stay With My Child During IV Placement?

Yes, parents can stay when their child gets an IV line.

How Long Does IV Placement Take?

Putting in an IV takes a few minutes.

What Happens After IV Placement?

The nurse may use another long tube to connect the IV to an IV bag of fluid or medicine. Often, a pump helps the fluid or medicine slowly go into the child's vein. The IV bag hangs on a pole that can be wheeled around.

Are There Any Risks From IV Placement?

Placing an IV is usually done without any problems. Sometimes there's a small bruise at the site where the needle and tube entered the vein.

Occasionally, if the IV isn't going into the vein, fluid and medicine can leak into the nearby area. This can cause swelling and discomfort. The nurses will check the IV site often to make sure the IV is where it should be.

How Can Parents Help?

Kids and teens may feel nervous getting an IV. To help your child feel more at ease, you can:

  • Hold your child's hand and talk to them.
  • Encourage them to take deep breaths.
  • Distract your child with music or a video.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date Reviewed: 04-11-2019

What next?