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How To Flush Your Child's Picc Or Midline Catheter


What do I need to know about flushing my child's PICC or midline catheter?

Your child's healthcare provider will tell you how often to flush your child's catheter. He or she will also tell you how much saline to flush the catheter with. Your child's healthcare provider will also tell you if you need to use heparin to flush the catheter. Always flush your child's catheter before and after you put medicine through it. If your child has more than one port, you will need to flush each port.

How do I flush my child's PICC or midline catheter?

  • Place your supplies on a clean surface. Supplies include the syringe of saline and alcohol pads. Heparin syringes will be given to you, if needed. Keep the pads in their wrappers until you are ready to use them.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Open an alcohol pad wrapper. Scrub the injection cap with an alcohol pad for 15 to 30 seconds. After you clean the cap, do not touch it or let it touch anything. You will need to clean it again it you accidentally touch it or let it touch something else.
  • Take the syringe out of the plastic wrapper. Remove the cap from the syringe. Push the syringe onto the injection cap, and then turn it to lock it in place. Open the clamp if your child's catheter has one.
  • Slowly push on the plunger of the syringe to flush your child's catheter. Use several short pulses. Flush with saline first, if you also use heparin. Do not force the saline or heparin into the catheter. This could damage the catheter or your child's vein. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you cannot flush the catheter.
  • Stop when about 1 milliliter (mL) is left in the syringe. This will keep any air bubbles in the syringe. It is important to prevent air from being injected through the catheter.
  • Remove the syringe and throw it away. Scrub the injection cap with an alcohol pad for 15 to 30 seconds.
  • Put your child's catheter line back in place on his or her arm.
  • Wash your hands again.

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • Your child feels lightheaded, short of breath, or has chest pain.
  • Your child coughs up blood.
  • Your child has trouble breathing.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • Blood soaks through your child's bandage.
  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
  • Your child has trouble moving his or her arm.
  • Your child's catheter falls out.

When should I contact my child's healthcare provider?

  • Your child has a fever or swelling, redness, pain, or pus where the catheter was inserted.
  • You cannot flush your child's catheter, or your child feels pain when you flush the catheter.
  • You see a tear in the tubing of your child's catheter.
  • You see fluid leaking from the insertion site.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. 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.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.