Taking Care of PICC Lines

PICC lines are commonly used for intravenous therapies that will take a long time. In most hospitals, PICC lines are inserted when therapy is anticipated to last more than 7 days especially with corrosive medications or fluids.

PICC lines are also safe for patients to take home and administer medications intravenously. Home care for PICC lines can be tricky and likely to develop complications such as infection, dislodging or blockage.

PICC line is centrally placed into the big veins of the body, specifically the subclavian vein. This make PICC line a great asset that can be used for months if maintained properly.

Here are some few tips on how to care for a PICC line at home.

  1. Make sure the clear occlusive dressing is intact all the time. Covering the PICC line with occlusive dressing when taking a shower is recommended.
  2. Avoid heavy using of the arm that has a PICC line to avoid complications such as dislodging and kinking.
  3. PICC line dressing must be changed every 72 hours under sterile technique is no Biopatch was used and every 7 days if a biopatch was used.
  4. Flush each PICC line port with 10cc normal saline without mixing the syringe. This is a good way to prevent cross contamination of PICC line ports.
  5. Always use alcohol prep to clean PICC line head/ports before and after use. Alcohol prep helps to prevent introducing bacteria into your body.
  6. You must flush PICC line with atleast 10cc of normal saline after administering medications. This prevents mixing of incompatible medications that may precipitate and clog the PICC line.
  7. Never administer any medication on PICC line without consulting your physician.
  8. PICC line ports should be changed with every dressing change, Microclave male adaptors are recommended for use as PICC line access ports.

Advantages of using microclave male adaptors on PICC lines

  1. Microclave male adaptors prevent PICC line leakages
  2. The minimize/eliminate use of needles, thus making them safer for patient and staff use.
  3. They minimize introduction of bacteria into the blood stream
  4. Makes it easy to make a connection or disconnection without compromising sterility
  5. They can be changed regularly with dressing changes and as needed.

How to flush a PICC line

  1. Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 15 seconds and dry with clean towel.
  2. Wear gloves for protection incase of accidental PICC line retrograde leakage.
  3. Clean the tip of the microclave port with alcohol pad and wait for it to dry.
  4. Using the luer, screw in a 10cc syringe filled with normal saline. Do not use less than 5cc syringe to prevent bursting out the tip of the PICC line, which can cause ischemic conditions like stroke, pulmonary embolism or heart attack.
  5. Use turbulence flush technique. In turbulence PICC line/central line flush technique, you flush intermittently with the full 10 cc of normal syringe.
  6. Never leave blood showing on PICC line tube.
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