Catherine Henry Lawyers’ expert health law team is handling an increasing number of cases for clients experiencing injury, in particular, permanent skin staining, from iron infusions.
What is iron infusion?
Intravenous iron polymaltose infusions or iron infusion is a procedure in which iron is delivered to your body intravenously (into a vein through a needle). This method of delivering medication or supplementation is known as an intravenous (IV) infusion.
Iron infusions are usually prescribed by doctors to treat iron deficiency anaemia. Iron deficiency anemia is typically treated with dietary changes (to increase the intake of iron rich foods) and iron supplement tablets.
You should only consider an IV iron infusion if you:
- can’t take iron by mouth
- can’t absorb iron adequately through the gut
- can’t absorb enough iron due to blood loss
- need to increase iron levels fast to avoid medical complications or a blood transfusion.
Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in Australia and remains one of the most under diagnosed conditions in general practice. About 8% of the pre-menopausal adult women have biochemical iron deficiency, with less than one-quarter being anaemic.
What are the risks of iron infusion?
When side effects do occur, they are generally mild and settle down on their own. The most common side effects are temporary and include:
- headache, feeling sick or vomiting, muscle or joint pain
- changes in taste (e.g. metallic)
- changes to blood pressure or pulse.
Brown discolouration may occur due to leakage of iron into the tissues around the needle (drip) site (tissuing). This is not common but the stain can be long lasting or permanent.
Know the risks
We urge people to be aware of the risks of iron infusions. If you seek to have this treatment, ensure those carrying it out have done so on many occasions. Your doctor should explain how they will carry out the iron infusion as well as all of the risks with you before you consent. Decide if the benefit is worth the risk of permanent stains to your arm.
If you experience pain during an infusion, ask the health professional to stop and apply pressure. Make sure a pressure bandage is applied at the end of the infusion.
If you or a loved one has experienced negative impacts from iron infusions, please get in touch with one of our caring, expert, health lawyers about the options available to you. Taking legal action can also help change health care practices and hold health care professionals to account so other people do not to have experience what you went through.