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What would you do?

TNRad RN TNRad RN (New) New

Just curious how others nurses have dealt with the following situation: A patient that leaves a hospital or an outpatient facility with IV access intact. I have worked in the ER & when this happens we call the police to find the patient. It happened last week while I was working in an outpatient facility. The patient was given specific instructions not to leave but left the building for over 30 minutes. Is this a risk to my license? Is it illegal?

flightnurse2b, LPN

Specializes in EMS, ER, GI, PCU/Telemetry.

our facility will also call the police to find the patient.

we have a VERY high incidence of IVDA in our community... and having a patent IV would be a really bad thing for one of these patients.

document, document, document.


Specializes in OB-GYN. Has 3 years experience.

Do you mean a Hep/saline loc or the tubing and all? In our area, people are sent home with saline locs if they require long-term treatment. Besides, if the pt leaves of his own accord and you did everything you were supposed to, I don't see how it could hurt your license. Maybe I don't quite understand though.

I guess it depends on the patient. It has happened on my unit before. Either the patient calls and tells us they still have the IV in or the nurse who just discharged the patient (post-op) all of the sudden remembers once the patient is already gone. We usually call them to tell them to come back so we can take it out. If the patient is an IVDA or something of that nature, police are definitely sent out to find the patient. I don't think it would affect your license at all. I would however make sure you document the situation, the action, and the result.

I would guess that it depends on how it happened. if the patient leaves AMA or just goes AWOL, then this should have NO bearing on your license. However, if this is a regular discharge, and the nurse simply "forgets" to take out the PIV, then I can see a problem. We always must have an MD order on the chart to d/c the patient with IV access if the pt is to go home with it (a PICC line, I've never d/ced a pt with a PIV before).

Our ER calls the police and makes a phone report. I'm sure it is just a CYA move, we've been told repeatedly that the calls are given the lowest priority.

This has never happened in our unit because pt are rarely discharged from our unit. I know it happened to a friend of mine, and they had to send security and a nurse to d/c the iv. I guess the bottom line is to document, take care of the problem and try to reduce such incidences. I doubt it would fall on your licence since the pt was instructed to wait. Remember this would be your word against his. So document.

Thank your all for your replies, I feel better after hearing all this advice. I hope it never happens again & I am going to take more precautions in the future.

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