It's finally time to come home from the hospital after a long stay. But your spouse or your child has come home with a PICC line to receive ongoing medications. A PICC line (peripherally inserted central catheter) is a soft plastic tube that lasts much longer than the standard IV. Before and after each medication, the PICC line must be flushed to avoid infections. This is a very important step.
- Skill level:
Wash your hands. A PICC line must remain absolutely sterile. Use soap and water. Dry with a paper towel.
Rub the lumen (rubber cap of the catheter) with an alcohol prep pad.
Draw up the proper amount of saline into the syringe. You will be told the right amount prior to leaving the hospital. Insert the syringe into the lumen. Unclamp the catheter. Inject the saline flush very slowly.
Clamp the catheter at the end of the flush process while you are still flushing to avoid air getting in the line.
Remove the syringe and dispose of it properly.
Repeat this process with the right amount of heparin. (Often you will go home with syringes already drawn up). Insert the syringe into the lumen. Unclamp the catheter. Slowly inject the heparin. Clamp while still flushing near the end.
Remove the syringe. Dispose of it properly.
Tips and warnings
- Practice drawing up heparin with a syringe. Remove air in the cartridge by holding the syringe up. Push the plunger until a drop of liquid comes out.
- Do not force the saline or heparin flush if you cannot easily push it in. Call your clinic or contact person.