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IV Poles: A Complete Buying Guide

By CME Corp Staff | November 16, 2023

The humble intravenous pole or IV pole, one of the most basic, uncomplicated pieces of medical equipment in the healthcare setting is also one of the most useful and important. These unassuming stands are deceptively simple. There are, in fact, several types of IV poles as well as an array of available features and accessories.

The objective of this article is to offer buying recommendations for medical IV poles in the form of a comprehensive buying guide.

We will explore:

IV Pole Basics

What is an IV Pole?

To ensure we are all on the same page, we are defining an IV Pole as medical equipment designed to hold a bag (or bags) of intravenous fluids and medications as they are administered to a patient through a tube inserted into a vein. 

How is an IV Pole Used?

The working IV pole definition for this article also describes the most common and most important function of hospital IV poles … to facilitate the administration of fluids and medication. IV Poles can help deliver an array of medications from advanced chemotherapy drugs to antibiotics, and a simple saline solution.

Although not separate from the purpose of serving as an IV fluid delivery system, a secondary function of IV Poles is to allow medical staff to safely transport a patient without disconnecting them from therapeutic or lifesaving treatment. 

IV Pole Benefits

The portability function of hospital IV poles is also the biggest benefit

  • Medical staff do not have to disconnect patients from critical fluids or medication for transportation to another area of the healthcare facility. 
  • Patients who are able have the freedom to leave their bed to use the restroom, move to a chair, or take supervised walks to help strengthen the body.

IV pole accessories such as laptop tray attachments and storage baskets offer the benefit of using the IV pole as a makeshift mobile office to keep records (and maybe a clip to keep that Johnny closed in the back) with the patient.

Types of IV Poles

Despite its simple design there are several kinds of hospital IV poles.

Economy IV Poles

These IV poles are ideal for smaller clinics where there is little to no requirement for IV stands. They are often chrome and feature two hooks at the top of a height adjustable pole mounted on four wheels. They can support up to 45 lbs.

MRI Compatible IV Poles

Nonmagnetic, MRI compatible IV poles are used for those occasions when a patient needs imaging but is tethered to an IV. These specialized poles will be identified with an MRI Conditional or MRI Safe tag. 

Stainless Steel/Aluminum IV Poles

Stainless steel and aluminum IV poles are popular for several reasons.

  • Aluminum and medical grade 304 stainless steel do not corrode or rust.
  • Aluminum is lightweight making the IV pole easy to maneuver.
  • Stainless steel is more durable than chrome and is required if IV poles are used in a surgical setting.

Chrome IV Poles

IV poles constructed of raw steel and coated with chrome are durable options for clinical settings but will not last as long as stainless steel. Additionally, when the chrome plating becomes worn or cracked it allows the underlying steel to rust causing an infection control problem. Often chrome IV poles are a more economical choice in the short term.

Rolling Heavy Duty IV Poles

Heavy duty IV poles are designed for multiple infusion pumps or other devices that require an extra stable base. 

Ceiling Mounted IV Poles

Somewhat of a misnomer, ceiling mounted IV poles can be hung from the ceiling, wall, stretchers, carts, and wheelchairs. They can also be mounted on patient beds.

Disposable IV Poles

These IV Poles are primarily used for home healthcare patients who require gravity or pump infusions. Disposable IV poles are height adjustable for floor or tabletop use and made of lightweight aluminum.

IV Pole Features and How to Choose Them

The configuration of IV poles features is contingent on the environment where the pole will be used, the preferences of the medical staff using the stand, and the budget available. Most manufacturers offer a variety of choices for construction material, top and base style, pole diameter, and casters.

IV Pole Material Choices

As alluded to in the previous section, IV Poles are available in a variety of metals to accommodate different environmental needs.

IV poles can be constructed of chrome, stainless steel, aluminum, and cast iron. Each material offers variable degrees of durability, weight, and resistance to rust or corrosion.

Tops and poles are most often constructed of stainless steel or chrome for durability and ease of cleaning and disinfecting. In surgical environments, stainless steel is the only choice for an IV pole.

Although bases can be constructed of stainless steel, lightweight aluminum or heavy, stabilizing cast iron are more common. Aluminum is used for IV poles that will be moved and maneuvered frequently while cast iron is used for stabilizing IV poles intended to carry additional equipment such as an infusion pump.

With respect to resistance to rust, stainless steel and aluminum are the best choices for long-term durability. Chrome plated steel is a solid choice for the short term but will begin to rust when the chrome plating becomes worn or cracks. Cast iron is prone to rusting.

IV Pole Top Style Choices

The style of top chosen for an IV pole is driven by what the IV pole will be used for and the department where it will be used.

Some of the more common tops include:

Two Hook Tops are typically preferred in environments that do not use a lot of IV bags.

Four Hook Tops are the standard for most IV poles.

Six Hook Tops are the best choice for ICUs and Surgical environments.

Eight Hook Tops separate multiple bags for ease of reading the contents.

IV Pole Choices

Poles are available in several sizes with one inch being the most common. 7/8 inch and 1.25-inch poles are also available. Larger diameter poles are preferred for IV stands intended to support infusion pumps or other equipment and accessories. When choosing the pole for an IV stand look for telescoping poles that offer variable height adjustments. Many will adjust to heights more than 90 inches.

Although the diameter of the pole itself contributes to stability, the weight and construction of the base are the most important.

IV Pole Base Choices

In many respects the base is the most important feature of IV Poles. 

Bases offer the safety of stability and ease of maneuverability.  They may be star or spider shaped with 3, 4, 5, or 6 swivel casters and range in diameter from a space saving 16 inches to an ultra-stable 24 inch.

Heavy spider bases, with their lower center of gravity, offer greatest stability.

Lighter aluminum bases offer the most effortless maneuverability.


Choosing Casters

Choose casters to align with the designated purpose of the IV pole and the environment. 

Healthcare environments may require portable IV poles to maneuver around obstacles and travel over thresholds or objects.

Larger casters negotiate uneven floor surfaces with greater ease while swivel wheels provide the needed maneuverability.

Casters of thermoplastic or neoprene, viper casters, and omega casters are common choices for portable IV poles.


  • Casters of thermoplastic or neoprene are resistant to chemicals making them ideal for frequent cleaning as well as being non-marking and quiet.
  • Viper casters, a roller blade like caster with a hood and ball bearings, are abrasion, chemical, and oil resistant. As a bonus they sport a very high-tech look.
  • Omega casters are the best for protecting floor surfaces, quiet operation, and rolling over floor debris. A donut tread offers easier rolling and maneuverability.

Questions to Answer Before Buying IV Poles

While hospital IV poles are not complex devices, it is important to thoughtfully consider the needs of the facility, preferences and opinions of the medical staff, available features and accessories, and patient safety before configuring and purchasing IV Poles. 

Here are some considerations.

  • Is a Tip Test Report available from the manufacturer?
  • Where Will the IV pole be used? 

For example, ICU, surgical environment, patient room, chemo unit, dialysis center, or home healthcare. Answering this question will help determine the best top style, material construction, and base style.

  • How often will the IV pole be used? 

Answering this question can help with the selection of construction material.

  • What material is preferred for the construction of the IV Pole?
    • Medical Grade Stainless Steel
    • Chrome
    • Aluminum
    • Cast Iron
  • Will the IV pole be mounted or mobile

Answering this question will help identify the best base style.

  • Clamp
  • Star
  • Spider
  • Will the IV pole need to support equipment like infusion pumps or a monitor? 

Answering this question will help determine the diameter of the pole, the base style, and how many wheels.

  • How many wheels are best for the function of the IV pole in your facility?
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
  • Should the bases be colored? 

Color bases can help with asset location and management.

  • What accessories will help staff efficiency? Patient comfort? 

Some common accessories include:

  • Steering wheels
  • Baskets
  • Pump Support Tray
  • Power Strip
  • Tray
  • Oxygen Canister Mount
  • What is the budget for IV poles?

IV Pole Budget and Cost Factors 

Purchasing an IV Pole

The purchase price of an IV pole will vary in accordance with the quality of the construction material, top and base configuration, and the number of added accessories. 

CME has built relationships with the leading manufacturers of hospital IV poles and can not only help you configure an IV pole tailored to the specific needs of the facility or department, but we can also help you negotiate volume discounts and source the highest quality IV pole for your budget. 

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Shop our extensive line of IV poles.

Indirect Costs to Consider

In addition to the purchase price a thorough cost analysis should consider: 

  • the indirect cost of disposal at end of life, 
  • sustainability of the construction materials, 
  • the cost of downtime should the IV pole become unusable or misplaced, 
  • and unfortunately, the costs associated with a staff member (or worse, a patient) being injured due to an IV pole mishap.

Other costs to consider are delivery costs and “hidden costs” often related to improperly placed orders. CME can manage your POs to help prevent these “hidden costs” and manage the logistics and delivery of your IV poles to minimize delivery costs.



CME Corp. Your Source for IV Poles

Unassuming, uncomplicated IV Poles are some of the most important and useful pieces of medical equipment in a medical facility. Thoughtfully selecting features to configure a hospital IV pole will ensure the stand functions efficiently and safely in its environment.

Choosing a medical equipment distributor who can help configure, source, and deliver the highest quality IV poles for your budget ensures that you can focus on patients instead of the buying process.

Click the CHAT button to start the conversation about your IV pole needs with a live CME expert.


IV Poles and How to Choose Them FAQs

What is the standard height of an IV pole?

IV Poles are height adjustable. The most common height range is between 47” and 84”. Some specialized poles may extend over 90”.

What is the diameter of a standard IV pole?

Most IV poles have a diameter of 1”. Poles intended to support other medical equipment may be 1.25 inches in diameter.

How does height affect IV drip?

The higher the IV bag the more pressure it develops.  This causes the fluid in the bag to flow faster.

How much weight can an IV pole hold?

The weight capacity of an IV pole varies depending on its construction, the style of the base, and the number of hooks on the top. Disposable IV poles can hold up to 6 lbs. while heavy duty IV poles can hold 70 lbs. Most commonly, standard IV poles hold between 30 and 45 lbs.


About CME: With two corporate offices and 35+ service centers, CME Corp is the nation’s only equipment focused medical equipment distributer. We are the premier source for more than 2 million healthcare equipment products, from more than 2,000 manufacturers.

Our Turnkey logistics and biomedical services allow us to help healthcare facilities nationwide reduce the cost of the equipment they purchase, make their equipment selection, and schedule delivery, installation, and maintenance without impacting patient care. From medical equipment purchases to renovations and new facility construction CME Corp is your partner for seamless capital medical equipment purchases, delivered on time and in budget.

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