In the years I have been an infusion nurse, none of my patients would volunteer to have an “IV access” started for any reason unless prescribed for the treatment their illness or to save their lives. It seems that a lot of consumers, not necessarily “patients” in the traditional definition, are seeking unconventional IV treatments.
In the United States and other countries, “Intravenous Clinics” or centers are emerging offering complimentary medicine with intravenous services. Considering that an IV access gives straight access to the circulatory system, many take advantage of this route of administration.
“Some cultures like IV’s” – as this article stated, in China, ” injections and intravenous treatment are liked. This is a culture that seeks intravenous treatment.” The article describes:
“One 52-year-old woman is being treated for a cold with a half litre mixture of antibiotics and glucose. Another, who has a badly bruised face from a fall after a stroke, is receiving an infusion of Gingko Biloba, the popular Chinese herb, which a nurse says is used for dissolving blood clots. Next to her, a young man with his eyes closed, wearing a blue face mask, is also being treated with intravenous antibiotics for a cold.”
The western culture has influenced many countries including this Asian country, which is known for blending Eastern traditional medicine with Western technology.
One doesn’t have to go China to find some of the “alternative” treatments given intravenously. Here in the United States, there are centers that administer some of these:
Intravenous Hydrogen Peroxide: I am not sure why anyone would take this IV since everything I recall from using H2O2 is the foam and bubbles it creates when applied to a wound or open sore. Ha, but what do I know? There are many articles on the Internet on this, good and bad. This article, describes how it is given IV and the benefits of H2O2.
In IV H2O2 therapy, hydrogen peroxide is infused into the circulatory system through a vein in the arm. It drips in over a ninety-minute period. Five cc of pharmaceutical-grade, three-percent hydrogen peroxide are put in 500 cc five percent glucose in water as a carrier solution. Two grams of magnesium chloride are added along with a small amount of manganese to prevent vein sclerosis.
Then of course, there’s the bad news – Hydrogen Peroxide Therapy Linked to Patient Death and the resulting effect on those involved, Compounding Pharmacists Sued for Death from Intravenous Hydrogen Peroxide and those who say that Hydrogen Peroxide doesn’t kill.
Intravenous Vitamin Therapy: I get this one, it makes sense to me and as an infusion nurse, I have infused IV fluids with muli-vitamins added but mostly to patients with nutritional deficiencies. There are articles about high dose infusions of Vitamin C for patients with cancer as well as Vitamin B. Ok, so what’s the big deal? Sometimes these infusions with good purposes are often used because of its “oxidative properties” claiming a role in the anti-aging process. You get the point here.
Intravenous EDTA Therapy: This one, called chelation therapy has been around for a while now. The chelating agent, called EDTA, removes toxic metals, improves circulation, enhances the immune system and inhibits the creation of “free radicals”. Free Radicals are now believed by many scientists to be an important contributing cause of atherosclerosis, cancer, diabetes, alzheimer’s and other diseases of aging.
There are more…but I decided not to include those…
Perhaps there are some benefits to these “infusions” and I’m not one to judge the efficacy or safety of these therapies nor am I disregarding the value and importance of complimentary alternative medicine. But as infusion nurse, it is a concern that some of these infusion therapies are provided in a setting where standards of practice are not followed or loosely implemented, IV meds are perhaps used off label, whether or not the infusions are provided by a physician, or a technician, or a licensed professional nurse, and the lack of assessment and monitoring parameters for good patient outcomes. Reimbursement doesn’t seem to be an issue here as most of the patients who opt for these infusions are aware that the treatments are not covered by insurance.