Rehab Select Blog

Who Are the Candidates for IV Treatments?

Posted by Bobby Stephenson

Aug 20, 2020 10:10:00 AM


IV therapy can be a highly effective and efficient form of rehabilitative treatment. It consists of injecting fluids or medications into a patient’s bloodstream, using an intravenous drip.

The most common types of IV therapy include:

  • Fluid therapy for dehydration
  • Administration of antibiotics for severe infections
  • Nutrition therapy for patients unable to eat or drink

In this article, we’ll review the best candidates for IV treatments so you can provide excellent patient education for IV therapy.

Download the Guide: Understanding Rehabilitation Terms

Why is IV Treatment Beneficial for Serious Infections?

IV antibiotics are usually recommended for very severe infections. This treatment is advised because IV therapy is faster-acting than oral medication, as the treatment does not have to go through the patient’s digestive system before entering the bloodstream. It is preferred over oral antibiotics for patients who are too weak or infirm to take medications by mouth. IV therapy may also be recommended for patients who are mentally impaired and are, therefore, not able to remember to take a pill every day. It is sometimes used for resistant infections, as it allows doctors to prescribe a higher dosage of antibiotics safely. Finally, IV treatment can be beneficial in cases where the infected area is harder to reach with oral antibiotics—such as the spinal fluid, bone, or nervous system.


Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus infection (MRSA) is a bacterial infection caused by a type of staph bacteria that is resistant to many of the most widely used antibiotics. Most MRSA infections occur in patients in hospitals or long-term skilled nursing facilities. Symptoms include a painful, swollen, bumpy rash, sometimes accompanied by a fever. The rash can develop into abscesses that require surgical draining. The infection may remain in the skin, but in more serious MRSA cases, the bacteria can spread through the bloodstream, and cause potentially fatal infections in the bones, heart, lungs, or joints.

While minor MRSA abscesses or boils may be managed with incision and drainage, for more stubborn cases, a strong course of antibiotics is usually recommended. Because MRSA can be very resistant to oral antibiotics, current guidelines recommend at least 14 days of intravenous antibiotic treatment. IV therapy is particularly recommended for more severely ill patients, the elderly, and those with a compromised immune system, to ensure the complete eradication of deep-seated areas of infection.


Clostridium difficile (C. Diff) is a bacterium that can cause serious infections. Symptoms include watery diarrhea, abdominal cramps and swelling, dehydration, and inflammation of the colon. C. diff most commonly affects older adults in hospitals and long-term skilled nursing facilities, often after treatment with antibiotics.

In mild to moderate cases, oral antibiotics may be enough to treat a C. diff infection. However, for more severe cases, IV therapy may be helpful. For example, in cases where the patient is too weak to take medication by mouth, or where the digestive system is heavily compromised by the infection, IV treatments may be the best option. Research also suggests that when an IV infusion of bezlotoxumab, a human monoclonal antibody, is used in conjunction with standard antibiotic treatment, it can reduce the recurrence of C. diff infections by around 6 to 10 percent.

Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are prevalent in older adults, especially in women. Patients who have a catheter inserted, those with a suppressed immune system, and those who have recently undergone urinary surgery are all at increased risk of a UTI. Symptoms of UTIs include pain or burning when urinating, a frequent or urgent need to urinate, blood in the urine, cloudy or strong-smelling urine, and pain or cramping in the pelvis or pubic bone area. If the kidneys are also involved, the patient may also have fever, chills, back pain, nausea, or vomiting. Minor UTIs are rarely serious, but if left untreated, UTIs can recur frequently, or lead to kidney damage, urethral issues in men, and sepsis, especially if the infection spreads from the urinary tract to the kidney.

Because of the risk of major complications, prompt and effective treatment of UTIs is critical. In most cases, oral antibiotics will be sufficient. However, if the patient has a high fever, cannot keep down food or fluids, or has trouble remembering to take medication, he or she may be referred for treatment with intravenous antibiotics. IV therapy may also be recommended for more severe infections; because it bypasses the gastric system, IV therapy acts faster than medication taken by mouth.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is an inflammatory condition triggered by tick bites. The disease begins with a localized skin infection at the site of the bite but may progress to more significant symptoms. At later stages, people may experience a wide range of issues, including joint pain, joint pain, heart problems, eye inflammation, fatigue, liver inflammation, and neurological problems.

Oral antibiotics are the standard treatment for early-stage Lyme disease, usually as a 14- to 21-day course. However, if the disease involves the central nervous system, or if the patient is too weak or ill to take medication by mouth, then intravenous antibiotics might be the better option. In some cases, IV treatment may be recommended for patients who have failed to respond to oral antibiotics. IV therapy for Lyme disease usually lasts 14 to 21 days and is normally effective in eliminating the infection, although a full recovery from symptoms may take longer. During IV treatment, patients will usually receive treatment for pain and other symptoms, such as physical therapy, antidepressants, nutritional guidance, and stretching exercises.

Wound Care

IV therapy can play a key role in recovery from surgical wounds or severe, non-healing wounds. An IV may be used to administer high doses of antibiotics to cure bacterial infections in wounds—the rapid absorption rate and increased dosage make it an ideal solution to address potentially serious infections. IV therapy has additional applications in wound recovery. For instance, patients recovering from surgery may receive fluids enriched with minerals, vitamins, glutamine, and amino acids to help promote muscle recovery and decrease the risk of infection.

IV therapy is most effective when offered at repeated short intervals. Every Rehab Select has a Registered Nurse on call to supervise the different types of IV therapy and other treatments 24-7. To find out more about how Rehab Select can help support your recovery, please visit our website, or click here to contact us.

Understanding Rehabilitation Terms

Topics: IV Therapy