Welcome to our Home Intravenous (IV) therapy service. We provide Home IVs to our adult and paediatric respiratory patients so that they can be treated in the most appropriate setting for them, and in the comfort of their own home if they choose to.
Home IVs are offered as a treatment option to patients after an assessment by a multi-disciplinary team. If you are assessed as suitable for home treatment, you will attend our Heart and Lung Day Case Unit at Royal Brompton Hospital for your first dose of medication and to learn how to do IV treatment at home.
We have provided some useful resources on this page to support you at home – including a Q&A on everything you need to know about the Home IV therapy service and treatment.
We have also produced a leaflet that provides further information about home IV therapy. Please note: the information in the leaflet and on this page is a general guide to the Home Intravenous therapy service and intravenous medication and do not replace the need for personal advice from a healthcare professional.
You can find a list of FAQs on our Home IV therapy service below, alongside contact details of relevant teams in case if you have any further questions.
Frequently asked questions
IV therapy is medication given intravenously (through the veins) straight into the bloodstream. Home IV therapy is essentially intravenous medicine taken at home.
If you are receiving IV therapy at home, then a nurse will teach you (or your carer) how to safely manage the IV line and self-administer the medication.
The medicine is given into a vein through a small narrow flexible tube called a catheter or IV line. The IV line is inserted directly into a vein using a needle. The needle is removed, and the IV line is left in place and secured by a dressing.
There are different types of IV lines available and the one chosen for your treatment will depend on your veins and how long you will need the medicines for. You will be given further information about the IV line used in your treatment and how to care for it by a specialist nurse. You will also be given a plan for what to do if there are any issues with the IV line.
To determine whether Home IV therapy is the best course of treatment for you, you will have a consultation and assessment with your care team to discuss your options and next steps.
The process will be explained to you fully so you can decide whether you would like to proceed with this treatment. If you decide to proceed then arrangements will be made to start training and treatment as soon as possible.
No, you can choose between Home IV therapy and having your treatment in hospital and you will not be discharged onto the Home IV therapy service if you do not wish to be. If you choose not to go onto the service, we will discuss alternative options for your treatment with you.
Home IV therapy allows you to be at home, in a comfortable and familiar setting rather than in the hospital. It can also help you save time and money on travel and help you maintain your independence, be back with your family and friends or even return to work.
Feedback has shown that patients would choose Home IV again rather than have a prolonged hospital stay.
The service will be tailored to your needs. Some patients choose to self-administer the medicine, or alternatively a family member or friend can take on this role. If you decide to go ahead with either of these options, then you or your family member or friend will be taught how to do this by the nursing team.
When you visit the hospital, your nurse will teach you how to deliver medication through an IV line. You will be given plenty of time to ask questions and practise giving the medication. You will also be asked to sign a form accepting responsibility for continuing the treatment at home.
It is very important that you know how to deliver medication through an IV line. This is to prevent any problems with the line so it can stay in place and continue to work properly for the whole time you need it.
For more detailed information on what will happen when you visit the hospital for training, please see our Home IV therapy service leaflet here.
Your doctor will explain how long you will need treatment for. You may require only a few days of Home IV treatment or several weeks or months, depending on the nature of the infection or disease. During your IV therapy you will be under the supervision of our specialist teams, who will review your progress each week.
You may be required to have some blood tests to ensure that you are responding to treatment and that the IV line is maintained appropriately. Your team will let you know when these will take place and where you will need to go to have these done.
You will be provided with a small supply of IV medications when you leave hospital. The remainder will be provided by a homecare company (Baxter Healthcare) and not your GP. The hospital team will be responsible for your IV prescriptions. If you, a family member or friend is administering the medication, or you need any additional supplies that the please contact the specialist nurse (details below).
If you feel unwell while having Home IV treatment or you develop new symptoms, stop the medication and contact your healthcare team for advice (details below).
New symptoms could include:
- a headache
- fever or shivering
- flushing (warmth and rapid reddening of your neck, upper chest, or face)
- feeling sick (nausea) or vomiting
- mild wheezing
- chest pain
- a rash
- pins or needles or tingling of lips.
If you have severe symptoms such as:
- swelling of the lips or tongue
- bluish discoloration of the lips, fingers or toes
- wheezing, difficulty breathing or swallowing
- or you collapse
Stop taking the medication immediately. Dial 999 and ask for an ambulance. Say that the emergency is ‘anaphylaxis’ (severe allergic reaction).
Please remember: Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals do not have accident and emergency (A&E) departments.
When you visit the hospital, your nurse will teach you how to deliver medication through an IV line. You will be given plenty of time to ask questions and practise giving the medication. It is very important that you know how to deliver medication through an IV line. This is to prevent any problems with the line so it can stay in place and continue to work properly for the whole time you need it.
The videos below show you how to safely prepare and administer your medication and is consistent with the training you will receive in hospital.
An introduction to Home IV
Washing your hands before administering IV medication
This video will show you how to administer IV medication using pre-mixed syringes. Medication is already prepared and ready to use in these types of syringes. You will need to attach the syringe to the IV line and slowly push the plunger as shown in the video. Please note that this administration method is needle free. You can also refer to a written guide here.
This video will show you how to administer IV medication using a ready to use infuser devices or elastomeric pumps, which are non-electronic medication pumps. Medication is delivered as the elastomeric “balloon” deflates and gently pushes solution through the IV line. You can also refer to a written guide here.
This video will show you how to administer IV medication when you need to add medication into infuser devices or elastomeric pumps, which are non-electronic medication pumps. Medication is delivered as the elastomeric “balloon” deflates and gently pushes solution through the IV line. You can also refer to a written guide here.
This video will show you how to administer IV medication using bolus injections. A bolus injection is a single dose of medication in a syringe. You will need to mix the medication before administration. You can also refer to a written guide here.
This video will show you how to administer IV medication using gravity giving sets (also called drips). You need to mix the medication, add it into an IV fluid bag and attach a giving set to the bag from one end and to an IV line from the other end before administration. You can also refer to a written guide here.
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