Saline Lock for Children: Care Instructions

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

The doctor or nurse puts the medicine through the lock and into the vein. This is more comfortable for your child, because the doctor doesn't have to poke your child with a needle every time your child gets medicine. In between medicine doses, the lock closes, so no germs can get into the tube and vein.

Your child will have the saline lock for a few days. You will be told how your child will get the 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 your child 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 child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • While your child has the lock, have your child take showers instead of baths, and do not allow swimming. Keep the lock dry. When your child showers, 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.
  • Follow the doctor's instructions about caring for the dressing. Your child will have a dressing where the lock goes into the skin. It helps protect the lock.
  • Do not let your child do any exercise that involves the hand or arm with the lock.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has 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 child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if your child has 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.