IV manual flow regulators

These are devices designed to regulate the flow of fluid instead of using the roller clamp on the IV tubing. IV manual flow regulators are either part of the IV tubing or added on. Since these are regulated manually, these flow regulators are not “infusion pumps”. It does not function like electronic infusion pumps and should not be confused with one.

There are some benefits to using manual flow regulators:

  • May provide a more consistent flow than the built in roller clamps on IV tubings
  • Accuracy is about the same as the roller clamps +/-10% but easier to regulate
  • May provide protection against crimped tubing, and drifting of roller clamp
  • May prevent accidental free flow of solutions

There are some issues as well:

  • Accuracy of predetermined settings on the regulators vs. actual delivered rate. 
  • Reliance that the device will deliver the set rate without confirmation. 
  • Prevailing thoughts that manual flow regulators function like an infusion pump eliminating the need for counting drops.
  • Misconception that variables that affect “gravity” drips doesn’t affect rate delivered by manual flow regulators.

The decision to use these IV manual flow regulators should take into account factors such as:

  • Age and mobility of patients
  • Severity of illness
  • Type of therapy
  • Healthcare/clinical setting
  • Organization’s policies, procedures, and/or practice guidelines
  • Knowledge/competency of the nurses using the device

When used, these devices should be monitored during the administration of infusion therapy to ensure accurate delivery of the prescribed infusion rate.  These devices should be considered an enhancement to patient care and doesn’t replace the nurse’s responsibility to monitor the infusion of the prescribed therapy.

So now you know….IV manual flow regulators = you still need to count the drops to match the set rate on the dial.



1. Infusion Nursing Standards of Practice 2011

2. Alexander M, Corrigan A, Gorski L, Hankins J, Perucca R, eds. Infusion Nursing An Evidence Based Approach. St Louis, MO: Saunders Elsevier; 2010.