"Floating" IV


I have a question about a new IV start technique I was told about this evening. A bit of background for me, I am still a nursing student half way through my second try at nursing school, Failing out of a BSN school spring of last year and now in a Community College ADN program, anyway my wife and I had dinner this evening with some friends of ours who's wife is in Nursing school at my old BSN college, there are some new instructors there since my time at the school, anyway we were talking IV's and she mentioned "floating" in the IV on a patient with difficult veins and dehydration. This is something I had never heard of and so I went on an internet search for this technique, it brought me to allnurses.com to an old post from 2007 that spoke briefly about "floating" IV's, three of the four nurses that responded to that post did not like the idea of it. I am skeptical of it myself, I get the Idea of how it could help advance a catheter into a vein that is difficult but also the risks involved with it. I was hoping for some new responses to this idea, i am on summer break from my nursing school to ask any of my instructors about this but either way would like the opinion of the many knowledgeable nurses on this site. Thank You

Specializes in NICU. Has 11 years experience.

I've seen it done a few times. "Floating" the catheter in is the concept of flushing as you advance the catheter. It's a useful technique to get past valves.

Esme12, ASN, BSN, RN

4 Articles; 20,908 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care, ED, Cath lab, CTPAC,Trauma. Has 43 years experience.

It is helpful. You gently flush...or I will hook up the IV and turn it on....to gently allow the IV to flow into the vein. If the patient is dehydrated or has some scarred veins it is helpful. I have found this useful on babies and the elderly.

Specializes in Emergency Department; Neonatal ICU. Has 5 years experience.

I find it useful as well. Just be gentle, as Esme noted. Many times, once it's in (past the valve or scar tissue), it flushes beautifully and works great.

roser13, ASN, RN

6,504 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg, Ortho, ASC. Has 17 years experience.

OP, what are the risks that you are worried about?

blondy2061h, MSN, RN

1 Article; 4,094 Posts

Specializes in Oncology. Has 15 years experience.

I was never really taught how to put IV's in. The way I learned myself involved floating. It's how I've done it ever sense. I'm now one of the best at IV's on my floor. We each do maybe one a year, so still not good though.


4 Articles; 10,428 Posts

Not new, and really not revolutionary....it's merely part of the 'art' of getting a good IV insertion. Some go in perfectly, some require a bit of a jiggle, some a little flush float. As long as the technique is sound, it's hardly a problem.

MunoRN, RN

8,058 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 10 years experience.

I don't really get what the concern is with 'floating in' and IV, it would seem the concern should be with not floating in an IV in hypovolemic patient. Advancing the catheter in a collapsed or near collapsed vein is very likely to basically scrape against the wall of the vein as it advances, or cause trauma to a valve by pushing it open with pointy catheter, rather than with fluid flow. Instilling fluid while advancing the catheter expands the vein and opens valves allowing the catheter to advance more freely.

Ruas61, BSN, RN

1,368 Posts

Specializes in MDS/ UR. Has 41 years experience.

It always worked well in the day I did IVs,

Mr. Murse

403 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care/Vascular Access. Has 12 years experience.

To answer some of the previous questions, the concern with floating the catheter in, from my understanding, is the higher risk of infection. Which is understandable because there's a bit of handling involved in disconnecting the needle and reconnecting the flush. I don't feel like it's a very high risk if you handle it correctly, but slightly higher than if you already have the catheter completely in the vein before connecting the flush.

I start IV's quite frequently and rarely have to resort to floating one in.


1,871 Posts

People on this forum or so paranoid regarding basic techniques. I float IVs all the time and yes it works.....

Specializes in critical care, ER,ICU, CVSURG, CCU.

you received some useful and insightful information