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How To Care For Your Midline Catheter


A midline catheter is an IV placed into a vein in your upper arm. Your midline catheter may have multiple ports. Ports are tubes where medicine can be injected. A midline catheter can be kept in place for several weeks or months. You may need a midline catheter to get medicine or fluids. Your midline catheter may also be used to remove blood for tests.


Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You feel lightheaded, short of breath, or have chest pain.
  • You cough up blood.
  • You have trouble breathing.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • Blood soaks through your bandage.
  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
  • You have trouble moving your arm.
  • Your catheter falls out.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever or swelling, redness, pain, or pus where the catheter was inserted.
  • You cannot flush your catheter, or you feel pain when you flush your catheter.
  • You see a hole or crack in the tubing of your catheter.
  • You see your arm swell when you flush your catheter.
  • You run out of supplies to care for your catheter.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

How to change the bandage and clean your skin:

Your healthcare provider will tell you how often to change your bandage. Change the bandage any time it becomes wet, dirty, or moves out of place. Keep your catheter covered with a bandage at all times. You may need another person to help you change the bandage. Do the following to change your bandage:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub. Put on clean gloves.
  • Hold the end of your catheter so it does not move. Slowly remove the bandage by pulling it towards the insertion site. Do not pull the bandage away from the insertion site. This can pull out your catheter.
  • If your catheter is secured with a device, gently remove it as directed.
  • Wipe the area where your catheter is inserted (insertion site) with a cleaning solution as directed. Wipe the skin around the insertion site with a cleaning solution as directed. Start closest to the insertion site and move outward in circles.
  • Wipe the tubing that comes out of your skin with a cleaning solution as directed.
  • Place a new securement device around your catheter as directed.
  • Apply a bandage as directed. If the bandage is clear, make sure you can see the insertion site.

How to care for the caps and tubing:

  • Clean the injection cap before and after each use. Wash your hands and put on gloves before you clean each injection cap. Scrub the injection cap with an alcohol pad for 15 seconds.
  • Change the injection caps every 3 to 7 days or as directed. Wash your hands and put on gloves before you change the caps. If there are clamps on your catheter, close the clamps on each port. Twist the caps to remove them from the end of each port. Scrub the end of each port with an alcohol pad for 15 seconds. Place a new cap on the end of each port.
  • Change and clean the medicine tubing as directed. You may need to attach extra tubing to your catheter when you get medicine. Ask your healthcare provider how often to change the medicine tubing. Wash your hands and put on gloves before you touch medicine tubing. Wipe the end of the tubing with an alcohol wipe before you attach it to the injection cap. Always place a cap over the end of medicine tubing when you are not using it.

How to flush your catheter:

Your healthcare provider will tell you how often to flush your catheter. He or she will also tell you how much saline to flush your catheter with. If you have more than 1 port, you will need to flush each one. Do the following to flush your catheter:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub. Put on clean gloves.
  • Scrub the injection cap with an alcohol pad for 15 seconds.
  • Push on the end of the empty syringe so the plunger goes all the way to the tip. This will remove any air that is in the syringe. It is important to prevent air from being injected through the catheter.
  • Attach the saline syringe to the injection cap.
  • Slowly push on the plunger of the syringe to flush your catheter. Do not force the saline into your catheter. This could damage the catheter or your vein. Call your healthcare provider if you cannot flush your catheter.
  • Throw away the syringe as directed. Clean the injection cap with an alcohol pad for 15 seconds.

Prevent a bloodstream infection:

  • Wash your hands often. Wash your hands before and after you touch your catheter. Use soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub. Tell others to wash their hands before and after they visit. This will decrease germs in your home.
  • Limit contact with your catheter. Only touch your catheter when you need to give yourself medicine or clean it. Do not let others touch your catheter or tubing.
  • Keep your catheter clamped when not in use. This will prevent air or fluid from getting into your catheter.
  • Do not swim or take a bath. These actions can cause bacteria to get into your catheter.
  • Cover your catheter with a waterproof cover before you shower. Ask your healthcare provider where to buy a waterproof cover. He or she may instead tell you to use a plastic bag and tape to protect your catheter. Keep your catheter out of the water as much as possible during your shower. Change the bandage if it gets wet.
  • Check your catheter every day for signs of infection. Look for redness, swelling, pus, or fluid. Report any pain at the insertion site or signs of infection to your healthcare provider. A fever may also be a sign of infection.


  • Limit the use of your arm with the catheter. Ask your healthcare provider what activities are safe to do. Do not exercise with the arm. Do not lift anything heavier than 5 pounds. Try not to push or pull with the arm.
  • Tell healthcare providers that you have a catheter. Tell them not to do IVs, blood draws, or blood pressure readings in the arm with your catheter. Do not allow flu shots or vaccinations in your arm with your catheter.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© 2017 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.