Having a young child undergo a medical procedure is a stressful experience for children and parents alike. One of the best ways to support your child is to prepare them for the experience ahead of time. Preparing children for experiences lessens anxiety and increases coping skills
An IV stands for intravenous—when fluids or medicines are given through a small tube that is placed inside a vein. Veins are small tubes inside our body that help blood move through the body. Sometimes veins can be seen under our skin—they are blue looking lines. Children may hear the word as “ivy.” It may be less confusing to just call it a special tube rather than an IV. First a doctor or nurse will check the hand or arm to find a vein to put the special tube in. They might put a tight band on the arm to help see the veins. They will clean the skin with a wipe that is cold and wet. A doctor or nurse will use a tiny needle to help the tube go into the vein. This will feel like a poke and might hurt. Once the tube is inserted the needle is taken out and the tube is held in place with gauze pads and tape. Medicine can be given with a syringe hooked up to the tube or put in a clear bag that is hooked up with a long, flexible tube. The medicine or special water will drip into the tube and help a person feel better. Sometimes there will be a special machine called an “IV pump” that keeps track of how fast the medicine goes into the body. Sometimes the machine will beep. This lets the nurse or doctor know that they need to check the machine and turn off the beep. When a person no longer needs an IV or tube for medicine the nurse will take it out. This might feel like a pinch as it comes out and there might be a little bit of blood. There will be a little red mark on the skin where the tube went into the vein. A Band-Aid will cover the spot while it gets all better.
This social story is a suggested script for you to read with your child. Please modify to fit your child’s needs. Some children like lots of details to help them cope ahead with a challenging situation while others need less detail and more reassurance. You know your child best—use this as a resource and guide to help you prepare them for a healthcare experience.
Getting an IV
Sometimes when people get sick they need medicine. Often this is medicine that can be taken at home to help a person feel better. They might chew a pill or drink a little bit of medicine. Sometimes when a person is sick they might need different medicine from the doctor at the doctor’s office or hospital. Doctors know what kinds of medicines will help you feel better. Sometimes the medicine is not one that you drink or eat.
Sometimes it is a liquid that goes into your vein. Veins are the tiny tubes inside a body that move blood from the heart and lungs and all around the body. Sometimes you can see your veins. Look on your hands or arms for the blue lines under your skin. These are your veins. When you need medicine to go into your veins it is called an IV. That’s a different way of saying “inside the vein.” This IV is not the same thing as plants that are called "ivy", even though it sounds the same!
The doctor or nurse will put a tiny tube inside your vein to give you medicine you need to feel better. First, they might pat your hand to make the veins easier to see. They might even tie a special band around your arm to help. It will feel really tight. It might be uncomfortable. It will be taken off once the medicine tube is in your vein. Then your skin will be cleaned with a little wipe. It will feel cold and wet. They will count, “1, 2, 3” …and then you will feel a little poke from a tiny needle. The needle helps the tube go inside your vein. Once the tube is inside, the needle is taken out. Only the tiny tube stays inside the vein. Then special tape and soft bandages will be used to tape the outside of the tube so it stays in place.
Then medicine can be given through the tube to help you feel better. Sometimes the medicine is pushed into the tube with a syringe. Other times it is in a bag of special water and the bag hangs on a tall pole so that the medicine will drip down through a long, flexible tube. This way the medicine goes slowly into the tube inside your vein. Sometimes the tubing goes through a pump which looks like a box with numbers and lights on it. It helps the medicine to go in at just the right time. Sometimes the pump will beep. That tells the nurse to check the machine and then turn off the beep. Your doctor will know which way to give the medicine through your vein. When you are done needing the medicine through the tube in your vein it will be taken out. Your doctor or nurse will take it out. They will take off the tape which will feel like taking off a Band-Aid. Then they will gently slide the tube out of your vein. It might feel like a pinch when it comes out and there might be a little bit of blood at the spot where the tube was—you will get a Band-Aid to put on it while the spot heals.
You might feel scared when you get an IV tube to help give you medicine. That is okay. There are things you can do to help yourself feel better—hold your parent’s hand, hug a stuffed animal, have your parent sing to you or tell you a story. Your mom and dad can help you not feel scared. When it is done, you can be proud that you did something hard.
Note: This general information is about a common medical procedure. It is not meant to replace information provided by your health care provider. It is aimed to give you a basic understanding of what procedures are like, how your child might think and feel about them, and what to say prepare your child for medical experiences. Adapt these to fit the specific medical procedure and needs of your child.
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