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escapedone7's avatar

I removed my own IV and a hospital nurse went bonkers. Is it so dangerous?

Asked by escapedone7 (5915 points ) August 9th, 2010

I removed my own IV needle at the hospital after the doc said I could go home.

When the nurse returned she went absolutely bat shift insane. She acted like I could have killed myself on the spot or something. This didn’t seem like a big deal to me. It was just a needle in a vein. they used it to put dye in for the cat scan. I know people that have holes, piercings from needles all over them. I didn’t think a needle could kill me. She said I could have really done a lot of damage to myself by removing my needle. I was confused. It doesn’t SEEM like a suicide attempt but next time I feel suicidal, can I kill myself with an IV needle? How bad was I? I applied pressure and slowly withdrew the needle. Everything seemed fine. So am I going to die? Should I go check into the hospital again? LOL. I am curious now. What is the worst that can happen if you remove your own IV? Can I seriously drop dead? How do the nurses do it correctly so I do it better next time?

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11 Answers

ducky_dnl's avatar

I agree with you. When I’m put in the hospital, I get IVs a lot. I’ve taken them out on my own plenty of times..and never hurt myself. I think they freak it because you hurting yourself or doing that can get them in trouble, fired, or even sued.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Insurance liability.

truecomedian's avatar

I think part of it, is that when you do it, you bleed from that area, and it’s possible to spray blood all over the place. It’s funny huh, making them flip out, I’ve pulled a few tubes out of me, never could get that catheter out, has a release valve. Yeah, they go apeshit when you do their job for them.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

The cannula used for contrast injections is relatively pliable and so can’t do a whole lot of damage, but the issue is more for infection control because the cannula must go straight into the biological waste bin. Taking it out yourself means that the person who was supposed to has to search the area for your blood to make it safe for the next patient. Next time just let them do it – you still don’t get to go home any earlier, and it keeps everyone happy.

sleepdoc's avatar

Maybe the reaction from the nurse was a bit over the top. Just so you can look at it from the other side. Anytime you have an IV in, people like to make sure they don’t need to give you anything else through it before they take it out. So maybe when it seems like you only needed it because they were just doing one thing and that is completed you shouldn’t need it anymore. However, people do have reactions to just about any and everything given in the hospital. Depending on the severity of the reaction, the only way to treat it may be giving IV medications. If there is no longer an IV, then you have to have a new one placed. If you were having a severe reaction to something, you probably would feel like having to wait for that IV to go back in. The length of time it stays in usually has to do with what the orders for your procedure say. And that is normally linked to what you get, what the chances of having reaction to it are, and how far out from getting the medication the reaction can occur.

Lastly, just about everyone who deals with IVs would rather keep and a bunch of existing IVs in for an extra 30 minutes than have to start another new IV. Most people are way more upset about getting stuck again as well.

And then there are the things people already mentioned above.

Seaofclouds's avatar

As others have mentioned, there is the insurance liability part of it. The nurse is responsible for you while you are in her care. The catheter tips are soft, but they can break off. When a nurse takes out an IV, she/he must document that the catheter was intact. If the tip of it breaks off, it could act as a clot and cause some serious damage. This is rare, but it is possible. There is also the possibility of an air bubble getting in as you are taking it out. Again, this is rare, but it is possible.

As @sleepdoc mentioned, we always wait to take IVs out until we know for sure that you won’t need any more medication. I’ve had doctors tell their patients that they were going to let them go home today, but then come out and tell the nurses that they want the patient to get another dose of antibiotics or some more fluid before we send them home.

CMaz's avatar

Maybe, when you are in the hospital. You are suppose to be the patient?

escapedone7's avatar

@ChazMaz Me? Patient? Fat chance of that. Well they will probably really really be unhappy to hear I am not dead yet. hee hee.

Thanks @sleepdoc . I guess I could have some mystery reaction or something. They left me alone, without a call light and not hooked to monitors for about 3 hours by then. If I did have this mystery reaction nobody would know about it until I was dead cold and and stiff as a board. But still the policy makes sense when you put it that way.

escapedone7's avatar

I can’t buy the theory that this nurse’s rage and flaring nostrils meant she was so deeply concerned I might have to feel the pain of a stick again if there was a new order. I think if she could have she would have jabbed me gleefully 100 times. LOL

Austinlad's avatar

I think @Seaofclouds states the reasons best, and while the nurse may not have shown the best beside manner, she was just trying to her job. Plus, who knows what other issues she was dealing with that day.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@escapedone7 Although @sleepdoc had a great point, your particular situation was not that dangerous in terms of reactions. Contrast reactions generally show symptoms within a few minutes, although they can be life threatening in a small minority of patients.

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