Effortlessly remove air bubbles from IV tubing

As a healthcare provider, one of your primary concerns is the safe and effective administration of medical treatments through IV therapy. However, air bubbles in IV tubing can hinder the success of this procedure, causing negative outcomes for patients. In this article, we will explore how to remove air bubbles from IV tubing and provide valuable tips for preventing this problem from occurring in the first place.

What causes air bubbles in IV tubing?

There are several reasons why air bubbles may form in IV tubing:

  • Improper priming of tubing: This occurs when the tubing is not completely filled with fluid before attaching to the patient’s IV catheter.
  • Misconnections: The connectors between tubing segments may not be properly connected, leading to air leaks.
  • Tubing movement: If the tubing is inadvertently moved or pulled, it can draw air into the line.
  • Medication preparation: Some medications need to be mixed or diluted in a syringe or IV bag prior to administration. If air is introduced during this process, it can move into the tubing and cause bubbles.

Why are air bubbles a concern?

Air bubbles in IV tubing can negatively impact patient care in a few different ways:

  • Reduced medication efficacy: Some medications may not be as effective when air bubbles are present, as they may not reach the intended site of action.
  • Intravascular air: Large amounts of air in the bloodstream can lead to serious complications such as embolisms or strokes.
  • Patient discomfort: Air bubbles may cause discomfort or pain at the site of the IV catheter.

How to remove air bubbles from IV tubing

If you notice air bubbles in your patient’s IV tubing, you should take steps to remove them as soon as possible to minimize negative clinical outcomes. Here are some methods you can use to remove air bubbles:

  • Gently tap the tubing to dislodge bubbles and encourage them to move upward, away from the patient.
  • If the bubbles are in the IV tubing near the patient, you can raise the affected limb slightly to encourage movement of the bubbles away from the catheter.
  • If the above methods don’t work, you may need to temporarily stop the IV infusion to manually remove the air bubbles. To do this, use a 5-10 ml syringe to aspirate the air back up into the IV bag or syringe.

Note: If you are unsure how to safely remove air bubbles from IV tubing, always consult your facility’s policy and procedure manual and seek assistance from a supervisor or experienced colleague.

How to prevent air bubbles in IV tubing

Preventing air bubbles is always preferable to having to remove them. Here are some tips for reducing the likelihood of air bubble formation in IV tubing:

  • Proper priming of tubing: Before connecting IV tubing to a patient’s catheter, ensure that it is completely filled with fluid and that all air is removed.
  • Secure connections: Ensure that all IV tubing segments are properly connected and secure to prevent air leaks.
  • Maintain tubing position: When tubing is properly secured, it is less likely to inadvertently move and draw air into the line.
  • Minimize medication and fluid connections: Try to limit the number of IV connections when possible to reduce the likelihood of air entering the tubing.
  • Eliminate injection ports: Injection ports, while convenient, can also introduce air into the tubing. If possible, try to avoid using them.


Air bubbles in IV tubing can be a serious concern for healthcare providers. Not only can they cause reduced medication efficacy and patient discomfort, but they can also cause life-threatening complications such as embolisms. Taking steps to prevent air bubble formation and quickly removing any bubbles that do occur is essential to providing safe and effective patient care.

By utilizing proper priming techniques, securing connections, and minimizing the use of injection ports, you can significantly decrease the likelihood of air bubble formation in IV tubing. Remember, if you are ever unsure about how to safely remove air bubbles, always consult your facility policy and seek assistance from a supervisor or experienced colleague.

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