Saline Lock: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

A saline lock is a thin, flexible tube placed in a vein in your hand or arm. It sticks out a few inches. The lock is used when you may need to get medicines through a vein (intravenous, or I.V.).

The doctor or nurse puts the medicine through the lock and into your vein. This is more comfortable for you, because you won't be stuck with a needle every time you get medicine. In between medicine doses, the lock closes, so no germs can get into the tube and vein.

You will have the saline lock for a few days. You will be told how you will get your medicine. You may be asked to go to your doctor's office, the hospital, or a special clinic. Or a nurse may come to your home. When the treatment is finished, the doctor will take out the lock.

The doctor has checked you carefully, but problems can develop later. If you notice any problems or new symptoms, get medical treatment right away.

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?

  • While you have the lock, take showers instead of baths, and don't swim. Keep the lock dry. When you shower, cover the site with waterproof material, such as plastic wrap. This helps prevent infection.
  • Wash the area around the lock daily with warm water, and pat it dry. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol.
  • You will have a dressing where the lock goes into your skin. A dressing helps protect the lock. Your doctor will tell you how to take care of it.
  • Do not do any exercise that involves the arm or hand with the lock.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness around the lock.
    • Red streaks leading from the area around the lock.
    • Pus draining from the area around the lock.
    • A fever.
  • There is liquid leaking from around the lock.
  • There are cracks or leaks in the lock.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.

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.