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How do you care for a PICC line at home?

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Home self-care of a peripherally-inserted central catheter line consists of maintaining good catheter hygiene, flushing the line periodically and changing the dressing as directed by a caregiver. Failing to care properly for the PICC line can lead to infection, according to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

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Avoid baths or other activities that might immerse the catheter site, suggests Drugs.com. When showering, wrap the catheter site in plastic to keep it dry. Never handle the catheter or its dressings, or clean the skin around the catheter, without first washing and putting on sterile gloves. Use a sterile alcohol pad to clean the catheter's fitting, or "lumen."

The area surrounding the catheter is covered with a protective dressing. Change a gauze dressing every second day or a clear waterproof dressing every seventh day, advises Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Change the dressing immediately if it becomes soiled.

Flush the catheter periodically with saline solution or clot-inhibiting medication as directed by your caregiver. This might be as frequently as every 12 hours, according to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, or as long as seven days if the PICC line is used only at intervals. Flushing clears lingering medication from the line and inhibits infection.

Clean the lumen carefully with an alcohol pad and freshly scrubbed and gloved hands, advises Vanderbilt University Medical Center, then open the syringe of saline solution or medication without touching the nozzle. Twist the syringe into the fitting at the lumen to lock it in place, and gently pull back on the syringe's plunger until a small amount of blood appears. Push the plunger gently down until all the saline is gone. If you have multiple lumens, repeat the process with each.

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