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How to Flush your Picc or Midline Catheter


What do I need to know about flushing my PICC or midline 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 the catheter with. Your healthcare provider will also tell you if you need to use heparin to flush your catheter. Always flush your catheter before and after you get medicine through it. If you have more than one port, you will need to flush each port.

How do I flush my 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 catheter has one.
  • Slowly push on the plunger of the syringe to flush your catheter. Use several short pulses. Flush with saline first, if you also use heparin. Do not force the saline or heparin into your catheter. This could damage the catheter or your vein. Contact your healthcare provider if you cannot flush your 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 catheter line back in place on your arm.
  • Wash your hands again.

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.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • 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.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • 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 tear in the tubing of your catheter.
  • You see fluid leaking from the insertion site.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

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