What is a PICC line?

A PICC line (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter) provides reliable intravenous access for a long period of time.  PICC lines can be placed at the patient’s bedside in a nursing facility or in a patient’s home.

What are the benefits of getting the PICC line inserted?

  1. Low risk of infection: When the line is inserted the area is covered with a dressing to keep it dry and clean and is done through a sterile technique.
  2. Versatility: The line can be used to for antibiotics, intravenous fluids, nutrients, chemotherapy, and blood draws.
  3. Remain in the nursing home: Patients are able to have the lines placed in at the facility, so the can receive the needed treatment without going to the hospital.

What are the risks?

Due to the nature of the procedure, there are a lot of benefits and risks related to the line.

  • Infections: There is a possibility of infection developing in the line or the area around the line. The doctor should be contacted if:
    • There is redness, swelling or pain in the area.
    • Discolored fluid is discharged from the site.
    • Patient experiences fatigue, muscle aches, weakness, chills, or fever.
    • Blood pressure decreases.
    • Patients white blood cell count goes up.
  • Blood clots: A blood clot may form in the vein at the end of the line.
  • Phlebitis: Inflammation of the vein where the line is inserted.
  • Air in the line: An air bubble can get in the line and then enter the bloodstream. The patient may then experience shortness of breath, chest pain, and light-headedness. The chance of this can be lessened if the line is capped or clamped when it is not being used.
  • The line may come out: The line is held in place by dressing but may become not secure. If this happens the line should be replaced immediately.
  • The line may break: There is a small chance that the line can split or get cut. This can be verified by an x-ray and the patient should go to the hospital immediately to get it removed.

How is the line removed?

Removal of the line done by a trained nurse and it takes a few minutes and is easy and painless. The is a possibility of a sudden contraction of the vessel wall (venous spasm), resulting in a little more time to remove the line. After the line is removed, the are is bandaged and kept clean and dry for a few days.

How is the line be taken care of?

The nursing staff at the facility will take care of the line and All-Stat PICC Line nurses will give instructions on care.

  • When in use:
    • The site inspected daily.
    • The dressing is inspected daily and changed weekly.
    • The line is flushed at least 2 times daily with 0.9% saline to prevent clotting.
  • When not in use:
    • The site is inspected daily.
    • The dressing is inspected daily and changed weekly.
    • The line is flushed weekly to prevent it from getting blocked. The line should be capped and the cap should be changed weekly.