Sign Up
For the best experience, choose your profession & state.
You are not currently logged in. Please log in to CEUfast to enable the course progress and auto resume features.

Course Library

LPN IV Series: Administration Methods

2 Contact Hours
This peer reviewed course is applicable for the following professions:
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVN)
This course will be updated or discontinued on or before Thursday, December 12, 2024

Nationally Accredited

CEUFast, Inc. is accredited as a provider of nursing continuing professional development by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation. ANCC Provider number #P0274.

This course is 1 of 8 courses available on CEUfast to meet the 24 hour written portion of the Florida LPN IV Certification requirement. The remaining 6 hours on the return demonstration of IV skills must be completed in person. To find a provider, or if you are interested in becoming a provider, refer to our Provider Information page.

100% of participants will use the correct technique administering IV fluids and medications.


After completing the course, the learner will be able to:

  1. Relate the five rules that serve as the standard for legal accountability in medication administration.
  2. Identify the types of patient's who require special consideration when administering medications.
  3. Select the best practice recommended by Institute of Safe Medication Practices in IV administration.
  4. Correctly monitor a patient prior to and after IV medication administration.
  5. Discuss Medication and fluid compatibility.
CEUFast Inc. and the course planners for this educational activity do not have any relevant financial relationship(s) to disclose with ineligible companies whose primary business is producing, marketing, selling, re-selling, or distributing healthcare products used by or on patients.

Last Updated:
CEUfast OwlGet one year unlimited nursing CEUs $39Sign up now
To earn of certificate of completion you have one of two options:
  1. Take test and pass with a score of at least 80%
  2. Reflect on practice impact by completing self-reflection, self-assessment and course evaluation.
    (NOTE: Some approval agencies and organizations require you to take a test and self reflection is NOT an option.)
Authors:    Wesley Hunter (RN, PMT) , Julia Tortorice (RN, MBA, MSN, NEA-BC, CPHQ)

Nurses' Accountability

Nurses have the largest role in medication safety. However, studies show that nurses handle 26-38% of medication administration errors. Medication administration guidelines adherence was low. Their results showed that at least one in four of the medication rights were regularly violated. The majority of these errors are preventable and according to the Institute of Medicine Report, The Future of Nursing, nurses as pivotal in reducing medication errors. Nurses should be diligent when administering medications and use the five rights with every patient. The rights included in the list are only one version. Some lists have different rights or more rights.

Right Patient: Use two identifiers. The room number is not an identifier. Ask the patient to identify himself or herself, check the name on the order, and the patient. If available, use technology such as barcoding. For patients not wearing ID bands or those that are not able to identify themselves, extra caution is a need. A system should be in place to identify patients without name bands or who are incompetent.

Right Medication: Every medication administered must have an order from the provider. Compare the order with the medication administration record (MAR) for accuracy. Compare the label on the medication to the information on the MAR three times:

  1. before removing the container from the drawer,
  2. as the medication is removed from the container, and
  3. at the bedside before administering to the patient. Do not prepare unmarked medication containers or illegible containers.

Be sure to verify medications at the patients’ bedside with the MAR and two identifiers.

Right Dose: Have a second nurse check any calculations that need to be done, pediatric doses, and high-risk medication (i.e., heparin, insulin). Use standard measuring devices such as syringes, graduated cups, scaled droppers. See if the pharmacists can split any required pills for safety. If medications need to be crushed, be sure to clean the devices used before and after. Nurses should have access to information on therapeutic doses, therapeutic serum levels if applicable, and laboratory results when needed. If there is any doubt as to the dose on the order on the MAR, or if there is a question on the medication, stop and verify all information before administering.

Right Route: Medication errors involving the wrong route of medication administration are common. Be sure to verify if there is any question as to the medication route. The nurse handles knowing the appropriate route for the medication. Giving medications via the wrong route can cause serious harm to patients. If possible, when using a syringe or other device, label the appropriate route.

Right Time: Nurses need to understand why medications are given at certain times. Although some medication requires clinical judgments as to when to administer, such as a PRN sleeping medication, other medications are labeled as time-critical in some hospitals. Studies show that giving medications at the incorrect time results in 30-40% of all medication errors. Giving medication at the incorrect time can impact bioavailability and efficacy of the medication. Likewise, medications should not be prepared or mixed in advance for the same reason.

Right Documentation: Document parameters, i.e., blood pressure for hypertensive medication.

Right Action: It is important to understand the rationale for the medications prescribed. If the medication ordered is incongruent to the patient's diagnosis and rationale for its use is not apparent, it is appropriate to gather more information prior to administration.

Right Response: Document the effectiveness of the medication and the patient’s response, i.e., allergic reaction, pain medication worked.

Right Form: Administration of the medication in the appropriate form (i.e., liquid versus tablet).

Special Considerations

The elderly, children, and pregnant women have physiologic differences that need to be considered when administering medication.

Due to physiological changes, particularly in hepatic metabolism and renal elimination, dosing in the elderly population can be challenging. The elderly may experience an increase in side effects or toxicity more easily. This is particularly important as the majority of elderly patients are on more than one medication. Care should be taken when combining medications.

Pediatric doses are very different from adult doses. Differences in dosing are not merely due to body weight but must include physiological differences. Rates of renal clearance can be different in each age group. The liver and kidneys impact the pharmacokinetics of a child dose versus an adult dose. Bodyweight, which most medications are based on, does not give an indication of how organs are functioning. Therefore, developmental growth must also be considered when administering medications to this population.

Pregnant women present another population where careful consideration must be taken when administering medications. The effect of the medication on the fetus may be detrimental. An understanding of how the fetus develops during pregnancy must be considered. The risks of not treating a disorder must be contemplated as well.

IV Administration Methods

Each facility has a policy defining what medication can be given IV. This policy should define administration by area of practice and administration methods. Follow that policy.

Aseptic technique is required for all IV injections and mixing of medications or fluids.
Aseptic technique includes (ISMP, 2015):

  • Hand hygiene prior to and after preparation and administration of the medication or solution
  • Disinfection of the medication access diaphragm on a vial or the neck of an ampule prior to accessing the medication or solution
  • Infection of the IV access port, needleless connector, or other vascular access device (VAD) prior to administration of the medication or solution
  • The use of personal protective equipment (PPE) if contact and exposure to blood or bodily fluids are possible when administering the medication or solution

A needleless system of infuse medications is the best practice. If infusing a large volume of blood, do not use a needeless system. Instead, attach the tubing directly to the hub.

When infusing or pushing multiple medications, be sure to flush 10cc of NS through the IV before and after each medication. This practice will clear the IV line.

IV piggybacks usually run over 1 hour. More current pumps have the exact infusion time and rate pre-programmed by medication. Remember to hang the piggyback higher than the main infusion bag if you are using a gravity drip.

IV Push, or bolus, is the administration of medication from a syringe directly into an IV. This can be injected into the tubing or into a saline lock. The indications for use are (Nettina, 2019):

  • When a rapid concentration of medication in the bloodstream is needed (CPR)
  • When a quicker response to the medication is needed (furosemide, digoxin)
  • To administer a loading dose for a planned continuous infusion (heparin, pain medication)
  • Patient comfort to avoid intramuscular injections
  • Avoid incompatibility issues when several medications are mixed in one bag
  • When the patient is unable to take the medication orally, or IM
  • Cost effective when you do not need a continuous infusion

Consult the pharmacy, policy, or manufacturer’s insert if you do not know how quickly a medication push should be given. Most medication is given slowly. Push is rarely in less than 1 minute and may be as long as 30 minutes. A push that is too rapid can cause serious adverse effects.

The best practice recommended by the Institute of Safe Medication Practices include (ISMP, 2015):

  • Use IV push or flush in a ready to administer form, rather than drawing up a medication in a syringe.
  • When administering IV push medications through an existing IV infusion line, use a needleless connector that is proximal (closest) to the patient, unless contraindicated in current evidence-based literature, or if the proximal site is inaccessible for use, such as during a sterile procedure.
  • Never use IV solutions in containers intended for infusion, including mini bags, as common source containers (multiple-dose product) to prepare IV flush syringes or to dilute or reconstitute medications for one or more patients in clinical care areas.
  • Have pharmacy prepare more than one medication in a single syringe for IV push, using their sterile compounding center. If the clinician needs to prepare and administer more than one syringe of medication or solution to a single patient at the bedside (ISMP, 2015):
    • Prepare each medication or solution separately, and immediately administer it before preparing the next syringe or
    • If preparing several IV push medications at a time for sequential IV push administration, label each syringe as it is being prepared, prior to the preparation of any subsequent syringes.
  • If preparing one or more medications or solutions away from the patient’s bedside, immediately label each syringe, one at a time, before preparing the next medication or solution.
  • Never pre-label empty syringes in anticipation of use.
  • Immediately discard any unattended, unlabeled syringes containing any type of solution.
  • Bring only one patient’s labeled syringe(s) to the bedside for administration.
  • Only dilute IV push medications when recommended by the manufacturer, supported by evidence in peer-reviewed biomedical literature, or in accordance with approved institutional guidelines.
  • Unless its use would result in a clinically significant delay and potential patient harm, use barcode scanning or similar technology immediately prior to the administration of IV push medications to confirm patient identification and the correct medication.
  • Assess central line patency using at a minimum, a 10 mL diameter-sized syringe filled with preservative-free 0.9% sodium chloride. Once patency has been confirmed, IV push administration of the medication can be given in a syringe appropriately sized to measure and administer the required dose.

Do not administer IV fluids and medications that have particulate matter or discoloration. Some medications will be colored fluid. If in doubt, double-check. This cannot be checked for the few drugs that come in a dark bag because of the medication is light sensitivity.

Some medications require dilution, particularly medications that are irritating to the vein. If you are withdrawing the medication from a glass ampule, use a filter needle or straw unless contraindicated.

Alert: Eliminate air from the tubing set and injecting device to avoid air emboli.

Before injecting anything into an IV, check the patency. Flush the IV tubing or saline lock with NS before and after a push. Check medication compatibility if you insert the push into an ongoing IV infusion or pushing more than one medicine.

Monitor the patient’s reaction during and after the push. Major adverse effects include (Nettina, 2019):

  • Anaphylaxis
  • Respiratory distress
  • Tachycardia
  • Bradycardia
  • Seizures

Minor adverse effects include (Nettina, 2019):

  • Nausea
  • Flushing
  • Rash
  • Confusion

If there is an adverse effect, stop the medication and notify the provider. Take emergency action if needed. Document in detail and generate an adverse event report.

Monitor the IV site for infiltration or extravasation.

Patient education includes education regarding the medication or fluid to be infused and for the patient to report any burning, pain at the IV site and symptoms of adverse effects.

Blood and fluid warmers are ordered to avoid hypothermia. This most commonly occurs with the replacement of large blood volume, the patient is known to have cold agglutinins, and during cardiopulmonary bypass (Nettina, 2019).

Power injectors are used in radiology to deliver a specific amount of contrast media in a specific time. Contrast material is to be considered a vesicant solution. Check your patient after return from contrast injection for infiltration and extravasation (Nettina, 2019).


Never infuse medication or solution through a continuous IV that is infusing:

  • Blood
  • Blood products
  • Heparin
  • Insulin
  • Cytotoxic medication
  • Parenteral nutrition
  • Vasoactive medications

In most situations, medications will be delivered pre-mixed. If you have any doubts about compatibility with IV solutions and medications, ask the pharmacist or check your drug resource.

NS is compatible with most medications. However, check with your pharmacist if administering warfarin, Imipenem-cilastatin, meropenem, or nitroglycerin.

D5W is also compatible with most medications. However, check with your pharmacist if administering pentobarbital Na, heparin, meropenem, or nitroglycerin. It is the preferred solution to administer insulin, lidocaine, norepinephrine, propranolol, and Zidovudine.

Most medications are not compatible when given IV. Many medications have not been researched for IV administration compatibility. The safety practice is to never mix IV medications unless you are certain.

Select one of the following methods to complete this course.

Take TestPass an exam testing your knowledge of the course material.
Reflect on Practice ImpactDescribe how this course will impact your practice.   (No Test)


  • ISMP Safe Practice Guidelines for Adult IV Push Medications. 2015. Retrieved 10/16/18 (Visit Source).
  • Nettina, Sandra M., “The Lippincott Manual of Nursing Practice” 11th Ed. Wolter Kluwer, Philadelphia, 2019.