how do you know if you put an iv in an artery? - page 2

by crystal777

20,493 Views | 17 Comments

I have three years of nursing experience. Over the past 6 months i have been doing iv insertion.I still get anxiety about it. My patient insisted that I put the iv into her antecubital area. I felt a nice fat vein that was... Read More


  1. 4
    Trust me, you will know - the blood will spurt across the room when you remove the stylet. And accessing an artery is somewhat more painful. You will not be able to run anything through the line without a pressure system.

    Don't lose any sleep over this - arteries tend to be deep even though you can feel a pulse, they are not very easy to access.
    canesdukegirl, Esme12, ObtundedRN, and 1 other like this.
  2. 0
    Quote from Jolie
    You will see pulsation in the connecting piece of tubing.

    Also, if you flush an arterial "IV" you will likely cause an arteriospasm, resulting in immediate blanching along the path of the artery and possible pain reported by the patient.

    I've done it once (in a newborn) and it was very obvious.
    I'm curious, when you did it to the newborn what exactly did you see after you inserted the IV? If you don't mind me asking, I work in a Peds. ED where this happened to a nurse I know and I want to avoid it ever happening to me if possible.

    !Chris
  3. 1
    I've had twice where I've accidentally accessed an artery...and it was ridiculously obvious every time. It's not unusual for me to make a mess by hitting a good fat vein...it is unusual to have the bright red blood spurt five feet across the room though! One of the times it didn't spurt as badly as the other, but when I drew back the syringe to check for blood return, it was the wrong color, which led me to just let go of the plunger. If the blood fills the syringe up on it's own, it's arterial. I actually called some of the newer nurses in to show them what it looks like since it happens so rarely.
    Esme12 likes this.
  4. 0
    In an AC vein, you will can get a very vigorous blood return using the access device (or when you remove the needle from the cath). I was once observing a nurse attempt to get an IV on a very tough stick (P.S., if you put it in the artery, it is not an IV, but I digress) and he hit an artery. You could tell because he hooked up the saline lock and with each pulse, blood would go up the line (with each pulse, blood would go another few mm up the line).

    It would be very tough to access an artery. Either way, though, make sure you flush before you give any med through the line.
  5. 0
    Especially with a systolic of 143.....it will SQUIRT out of the catheter and will actually form a little arch as it squirts all over the place.....bu if in doubt......the IV will NOT run by gravity but pulsate (quickly) up the tube to the bag. Simple but effective..
  6. 0
    You will know. Don't stress about it at all and if it happens you will definitely know. If you accidently do it it's not dangerous other then you need to hold extra pressure when you remove it because it will bleed a lot and a long time.
  7. 1
    Over the years, you're going to hit arteries and bone by mistake. I worry more about someone getting a vein instead of an artery during an ABG...they pull back and the blood looks purple, you're either not in an artery, or your patient's about to be seriously deceased.
    merlee likes this.
  8. 2
    I was an IV therapist for a number of years, sometimes starting up to 12 lines in an 8 hour shift. I hit an artery exactly once, and knew immediately.

    Just be prepared to hold pressure on it for quite a while.

    And try to NOT say "oh Sh!t" more than once!!!!
    ugoumeh and canesdukegirl like this.


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