How to Use a 3-Way IV Cannula

When it comes to administering intravenous (IV) therapy, healthcare professionals often rely on a 3-way IV cannula. This specialized medical device allows for multiple functions, including simultaneous infusion of fluids, delivery of medications, and monitoring of venous pressure. However, the proper use of a 3-way IV cannula is crucial to ensure effective and safe treatment. In this article, we will provide a step-by-step guide on how to use a 3-way IV cannula.

Gather the Necessary Supplies

Before starting the procedure, make sure you have all the required supplies at hand:

  • 3-way IV cannula
  • Alcohol swabs
  • Gauze pads
  • Tape
  • IV fluid bag
  • Extension set
  • Medications (if applicable)
  • Gloves

Preparation and Patient Assessment

Prior to initiating the procedure, perform a thorough patient assessment to verify the need for IV therapy. Assess the patient’s medical history, current condition, and any potential contraindications for IV cannulation. Once confirmed, ensure a clean and sterile environment by washing your hands and wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

Prepare the IV Site

Select an appropriate vein for cannulation. Commonly used sites include the dorsal venous network of the hand, forearm, or antecubital fossa. Cleanse the selected site with an alcohol swab and allow it to dry. It is essential to maintain sterile conditions throughout the entire process.

Insert the 3-Way IV Cannula

Hold the cannula with the bevel side up and slowly advance it into the vein at a 10-30 degree angle. As you insert the needle, ensure that the catheter remains steady. Once flashback of blood is observed, reduce the angle of insertion and advance the cannula further into the vein. Be careful not to force the cannula or remove the needle prematurely.

Secure the Cannula and Connect the Tubing

Once the cannula is successfully inserted, stabilize it by holding the hub and carefully remove the needle. Apply pressure with a gauze pad to prevent bleeding. Secure the cannula in place using tape or an appropriate securement device. Now, connect the extension set to the hub of the cannula, ensuring a tight fit.

Initiate Infusion, Medication Delivery, and Monitoring

To start the infusion, hang the IV fluid bag higher than the patient’s IV site and open the roller clamp on the tubing. Make sure the fluid is flowing properly through the cannula and there are no signs of infiltration or extravasation. If administration of medications is required, follow the proper protocol maintaining aseptic technique. Additionally, use the side port of the 3-way IV cannula to monitor venous pressure or administer secondary infusions if needed.

Ongoing Care and Documentation

Regularly monitor the IV site and ensure that the catheter remains intact. Change the dressing as per the facility protocol or as needed. Assess the patient for any signs of infection, phlebitis, or other complications. Document all relevant information including the date, time, catheter size, site assessment findings, and ongoing care provided.


Using a 3-way IV cannula correctly is vital for successful IV therapy administration. This article has outlined the step-by-step process to properly use a 3-way IV cannula, covering preparation, insertion, securing the cannula, initiating infusion, medication delivery, and ongoing care. Remember to adhere to strict sterile techniques and follow facility protocols to minimize the risk of infections and complications. By mastering the use of this versatile medical device, healthcare professionals can optimize patient care and ensure safe and effective delivery of fluids and medications.

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