PICC - flushing
You have a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC). This is a tube that goes into a vein in your arm. It helps carry nutrients or medicine into your body. It is also used to take blood when you need to have blood tests.
You need to rinse out the catheter after every use. This is called flushing. Flushing helps keep the catheter clean. It also prevents blood clots from blocking the catheter.
Follow your health care provider's instructions on how to flush your catheter. A family member, friend, or caregiver may be able to help you with the flushing. Use this sheet to help remind you of the steps.
Your provider will give you a prescription for the supplies you will need. You can buy these at a medical supply store. It will be helpful to know the name of your catheter and what company made it. Write this information down and keep it handy.
To flush your catheter, you will need:
Before starting, check the labels on the saline syringes, heparin syringes, or medicine syringes. Make sure the strength and dose are correct. Check the expiration date. If the syringe is not prefilled, draw up the correct amount.
You will flush your catheter in a sterile (very clean) way. This will help protect you from infection. Follow these guidelines:
Ask your provider if you also need to flush your catheter with heparin. Heparin is a medicine that helps prevent blood clots.
Follow these steps:
Keep all of the clamps on your catheter closed at all times. It is a good idea to change the caps at the end of your catheter (called the "claves") when you change your dressing and after blood is drawn. Your provider will tell you how to do this.
Ask your provider when you can shower or bathe. When you do, make sure the dressings are secure and your catheter site is staying dry. Do not let the catheter site go under water if you are soaking in the bathtub.
Call your provider if you:
Also call your provider if your catheter:
Smith SF, Duell DJ, Martin BC, Aebersold M, Gonzalez L. Peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC). In: Smith SF, Duell DJ, Martin BC, Gonzalez L, Aebersold M, eds. Clinical Nursing Skills: Basic to Advanced Skills. 9th ed. New York, NY: Pearson; 2017:chap 29.6.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 9/28/2020
Reviewed By: Debra G. Wechter, MD, FACS, general surgery practice specializing in breast cancer, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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