Long-Term I.V. Access Care: Care Instructions

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Long-term I.V. (intravenous) access is a way to put medicine, liquids, or nutrients into a blood vessel. A health professional also can use it to take blood samples. The I.V. access involves putting a thin, flexible tube called a catheter in a vein in your arm, neck, or upper chest. It is kept in place with a few stitches. A long-term I.V. line can be kept in for weeks or even months.

Tell your doctor if you take aspirin or some other blood thinner. These medicines can increase the chance of bleeding inside your body.

Care of your long-term I.V. line focuses on preventing infection. You may need to limit some of your activities while you have the line in.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • To help prevent infection, take showers instead of baths. Cover the end of the I.V. line with plastic wrap when you shower. Do not swim with a long-term I.V. line.
  • Clean the area around the I.V. with soap and water at least one time a day.
  • Do not wear jewelry, such as necklaces, that can catch on the I.V. tube.
  • You may not be able to do some exercises while you have a long-term I.V. in. Ask your doctor what activities you can do.
  • You can clamp or tie off the I.V. line if it breaks. Then, go see a doctor as soon as possible.
  • Your line will need regular flushing to keep the I.V. line open. A nurse or other health professional may do this for you. You or a caregiver can be taught to do this at home.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.