It happens often, the rules during war are different than the rules before war. Before WW 2, IV therapy was the domain of physicians. Starting an IV meant piercing body tissue and this was considered to be out of the nurse’s scope of practice.
Nurses who served in WW2 started IVs and administered IV therapy out of necessity. They returned home to find out that it was actually illegal for them to place IVs in some states. To be fair, IV therapy in the 1940’s looked much different than it does now. IV catheters were hard metal tubes that had to be sterilized and sharpened after use. Veins were often accessed via cutdowns – something us oldie goldies are familiar with.
It took until the 1970’s until IV therapy became the domain of nursing. From the 1940’s to the 1970’s, the idea of nurses performing venipunctures and administering IV therapy was debated by nurses, doctors, and hospital administrators.
In the end, I’m sure it was a financial decision – cheaper to have the nurse who was already there start the IV than call in a doctor.
So this week we are grateful for disposable, pre-sharpened IV catheters and thank the nurses of WW 2 for leading the way!