How do you"float" IV catheter while starting?


I'm a neonatal nurse and having difficulty in starting IV on newborn. So, I have been searching the tips for IV start and found that people found helpful by "floating" IV catheter. How do you do this technique while starting IV with no others' help? Also, if you have the tips as to starting IV on babies, that will be great. I am really frustrated that I fail most of the time. :cry:


4 Posts

You flush a little bit of NS and then advance the catheter. Some use this to get past a valve.


7 Posts

How do you flush the catheter though and when? As soon as you see flush? My hospital uses Jelco, so I will need to lock the needle and remove the safety chamber from the hub. So, I can't float the catheter in unless it is already advanced. I don't know if this makes any sense, but I am a little bit confused.


547 Posts

Specializes in Adult and pediatric emergency and critical care.

Floating in the angiocath is only done after you get part of the cath into the vein. The reason that this works is twofold, the saline itself will help to open up veins and valves by increasing the amount of fluids flowing in the vein, and that the flushing of fluids causes the tip of the angiocath to move side to side in the vein helping it to bounce around turns or other obstructions (think about a high pressure hose flopping around on the ground). The risk to this is that if there isn't enough of the cath in the vein when you flush is can get pushed out and you will lose the attempt. I find this to be much more beneficial on teens and adults that I do on neos or infants.

I have found that the biggest factor in success when starting a neonatal IV is having really good traction and patient. There are a myriad of products that will light up the vein, but in my opinion the attempt fails far more often so I don't use them unless I truly cannot find something without one. If the kid has a good scalp vein they tend to work great, although families tend to not like them. ACs and Saphenous veins also tend to work well, although they are also the preferred sites for PICCs so I would use those last.


3,413 Posts

Has 38 years experience.

Yeah, floating an IV in is hard to do one handed or alone. I have done it on adults and it isn't easy. I think it would be doubly hard on an infant. I have even simply waited ad called co-workers even if they weren't close by to help me float an IV in.

Read over the thousands of IV tips on Allnurses. Watch YouTube videos on starting IV's, I haven't looked but would not be surprised if there wren't several YouTube videos on starting IV's on newborns.


7 Posts

Thanks all. I don't think floating IV catheter is not an option for me. I have been watching youtube and reading IV tips as well. I am losing confidence now, and seeing new RNs getting IV makes me feel worse and frustrated that I can't get IVs. I know practice says everything, but we're small hospital, and there are not many opportunities to start IV. I wish I could practice every day. Again, thank you for your help!