Parenteral Gravity Drip

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Penn Home Infusion Team
The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

General Description

The flow of intravenous fluids is regulated by a roller clamp that is attached to the IV tubing. When the roller clamp is open fluids can infuse into the body at a rapid rate. As you close the roller clamp, the fluid will infuse at a slower rate.

Before Infusion

You will need the following supplies:
  • ___ bag(s) of _________ (fluid to be infused)
  • 1 microdrip tubing
  • 1 30" extension tubing

Setting Up Your Tubing

  1. Wash your hands (see Handwashing section for more information).
  2. Remove the microdrip tubing from the package. Straighten out the tubing.
  3. Close the roller clamp.
  4. Remove the 30" extension tubing from its package. Attach the 30" extension tubing to the end of the microdrib tubing.
  5. Remove the rubber stopper from the IV bag.
  6. Remove the cover from the spike of the microdrip tubing.
  7. Insert the spike into the IV bag.
  8. Hang the IV bag from a pole.
  9. Squeeze the drip chanber and release until fluid half fills the drip chamber.
  10. Open the roller clamp. Allow the fluid from the bag to fill the entire IV tubing. Be certain that there are no air bubbles in the tubing.
  11. Attach the IV tubing to your intravenous catheter.

During Infusion

  1. Using a watch with a second hand, count the number of drops for one minute. Adjust the roller clamp so that ___ drops a minute infuse.
  2. Place a strip of tape next to the numbers of the IV bag.
  3. With a pen, mark the time of where the fluid should be after each hour.
  4. Observe the fluid level frequently and adjust the flow with the roller clamp as needed to be sure the fluid level is at the right time.
  5. For example, if the fluid is going in too fast, close the roller clamp slightly so that it will flow in at a slower rate.

Ending Infusion

  1. When the fluid level in the IV is almost at the end, close the roller clamp.

  2. If no further fluid is to be given, follow the instructions for capping, flushing, or deaccessing the catheter. (See Capping, Flushing, and Deaccessing sections of this manual for more information).
  3. If you are to infuse another bag of IV fluid, remove the rubber stopper from the new IV bag.
    • Remove the old bag from the tubing and insert the spike of the tubing into the new bag.
    • Follow steps #1 and #2 under care during infusion.
  4. If you receive fluids continuously 24 hours a day, the tubing must be changed every 48 hours.

    a. Follow steps 1 through 10 under the Setting Up Your Tubing heading in this section.
    b. Clamp the intravenous catheter. Disconnect the old IV tubing.
    c. Connect new IV fluid and tubing to the intravenous catheter. Proceed with instructions under Care During Infusion heading in this section.
    d. Remember: Don't touch the tip of your catheter or the tip of your IV tubing!

Frequently Asked Questions