PICC Line home care for caregivers

PICC Line home care for caregivers

Bleeding, air bubbles, and difficulty flushing are just a few of the problems that caregivers may face with PICC line home care.

Below are some of the most frequent PICC line problems with suggestions to help you if you run into difficulty with managing a person’s PICC line (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter).

Remember to always wash your hands before you do anything with your PICC line, IV tubing, or dressing.

Caregivers should be taught to perform PICC line care by a member of their health care team (i.e. home health nurse) prior to managing a PICC line.

Remember to always wash your hands before you do anything with your PICC line, IV tubing, or dressing.

Blood in PICC line tubing

This may be caused by the person bending their arm or lifting. A small amount of blood in the tubing is not an emergency. Try having the person lie down or repositioning their arm. Make sure the IV tubing is not clamped and that the medication bag is not empty. Make sure all of the connections are tight and that the IV is not leaking. If you are a home caregiver and still see blood in the PICC line tubing, stop the infusion and call your home health nurse.

Air bubble in PICC line tubing

PICC line air bubbles may occur naturally from the medication. A small air bubble is not harmful. If there is a large amount of air in the PICC line tubing, stop the infusion and call the nurse.

Resistance felt when flushing a PICC line

Resistance may happen when a PICC line may be clamped or kinked. First, look for and straighten any kinks or twists. If the PICC has clamps, make sure they are all open. Call your nurse if this does not solve the issue.

You cannot draw blood back into the syringe before flushing PICC line

Again, first straighten any kinks or twists. If the PICC line has clamps, make sure they are all open. Ask the person in your care to cough; bearing down, raise their arm and reposition. Attempt again to draw blood back into the syringe. If you are still unable to draw blood back into the syringe before flushing the PICC line, DO NOT use the PICC and call the nurse.

PICC line tubing outside of the body is longer than it was before

This may indicate that the catheter has moved. Do not use the PICC. Tape the catheter in place, and call your nurse.

PICC line falls or is pulled out by mistake

This means that the central line is not in the skin anymore. Call your nurse immediately. Apply pressure to the exit site with a sterile gauze dressing for at least 5 minutes, or as long as it is bleeding. Tape gauze in place.

Injection cap falls off or is missing from the end of PICC line

The injection cap is likely either not tight enough, or the cap has cracked. If the PICC line has a clamp, make sure that the clamp is closed. Next, clean the end of the PICC with an alcohol pad, scrubbing vigorously. Allow the alcohol to dry for at least 30 seconds. Then, screw a new injection cap securely onto the open end of the catheter. If you do not have a new injection cap, cover the catheter end with sterile gauze. Lastly, tape the gauze into place. Call your nurse if you are unsure or to have the PICC line double-checked.

There’s a hole or crack in the catheter (or PICC line is accidentally cut)

If the PICC line has a hole, is cracked, or is accidentally cut, it is damaged. Immediately clamp or pinch the tubing by folding the catheter between the damage and where the PICC enters the person’s body. Next, cover the hole, crack, or open end with a sterile gauze. Lastly, tape the gauze in place. Immediately go to the nearest Emergency Room or call 911.

You might also like our Elizz article entitled Urinary Catheter Care Tips for Caregivers.

At Elizz, we provide caregiver support for you and home care services for those who depend on you. Elizz is a Canadian company powered by Saint Elizabeth, a national not-for-profit health care organization that has been caring for Canadians since 1908. 

 

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