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Patient Information

Intravenous therapy through a PICC line at home

https://kingstonhospital.nhs.uk/information/intravenous-therapy-through-a-picc-line-at-home

This is for anyone who requires intravenous therapy through a PICC line at home.

What is a PICC line and what is it used for?

PICC line image

A PICC line is a fine and flexible plastic tube up to 20cm long that we insert into a vein in your arm.

We use the PICC line to give drugs and fluids directly into your bloodstream via a big vein in your chest.

The PICC line can stay in place for up to 2 years or until the end of therapy.

A a doctor or nurse with special expertise in this procedure will insert your PICC line. They will do this using a local anaesthetic.

The PICC line may be stitched in place or held by a clip. We use a transparent, plastic dressing to stick the PICC line to your skin and we cover the whole area with a tubigrip bandage.

How do I look after my PICC line at home?

To look after your PICC line at home, do the following.

  • keep the dressing clean and dry
  • try not to touch the dressing
  • protect the PICC line from knocks.

Take extra care when dressing and undressing to avoid catching the PICC line on your clothes. It will help if you wear clothes with loose fitting sleeves.

Contact your nurse if the dressing becomes loose, dirty or falls off.

Bathing and showering

Use a ‘shower sleeve’ to keep your PICC line as clean and dry as possible when showering. You can buy a shower sleeve from most pharmacies.

Do not dip your PICC line in bathwater.

Contact your nurse and ask for advice if your skin under the dressing gets wet.

What happens during my appointment with the nurse?

Your nurse will wipe the PICC line connectors with an alcohol swab before and after each use.  They will also flush the PICC line with saline after each use to prevent blockages.

They will change the dressing on your PICC line at least every week and check your skin where the PICC line has been inserted.

Are there any risks or side effects of using a PICC line?

PICC lines are proven to be safe and effective but there are some risks.

Keep an eye on your PICC line site. Call your nurse and ask for advice if you notice any of the following reactions.

  • Allergic reaction to the dressing.  The area around the PICC line may be hot, red, or itchy and/or your skin may blister.
  • Thrombosis (blood clot) can occur in the vein around or near the PICC line. Symptoms include pain in your arm, shoulder or chest and a change in the colour of your arm. Thrombosis is usually cleared by the body over the next 6 months.
  • Bruising.  This can develop after PICC line insertion and may last for up to 4 weeks.
Go to your nearest Emergency Department (A&E) if you notice:
Infection.  The area around the PICC line may become hot and red, and there may be pus. You may have a high temperature and/or flu like symptoms.A&E icon
Swelling of the limb around or near the PICC line.A&E icon

What happens if my PICC line falls out?

This is unlikely to happen, but if it does, follow these instructions.

  • Apply a clean piece of gauze, tissue or cotton wool, and press firmly for a few minutes until any bleeding stops.
  • Use a plaster to cover the area where the PICC line is inserted.

Contact your nurse so they can decide if they need to insert a new line.

If your PICC line falls out and the bleeding does not stop, continue to apply firm pressure, and raise your arm above your chest.
Go to your nearest Emergency Department (A&E) or minor injuries unit.
A&E graphic

What happens when you remove the PICC line?

A nurse will remove the PICC after your final treatment. This is a simple procedure and it is not uncomfortable.

Your nurse will put a dry, sterile dressing over the skin.  Leave the dressing in place for 24 hours.

Intravenous therapy through a PICC line at home - Kingston Hospital Download PDF


Contacts

Contact the community nurse who delivers your treatment if you have questions or concerns.

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For information accessibility please visit Kingston Hospital AccessAble www.accessable.co.uk/kingston-hospital-nhs-foundation-trust
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Accessibility

Please contact the Patient Experience Team on 020 893 3850 if you need this information in a different format.
For detailed information on accessibility at Kingston Hospital visit Kingston Hospital AccessAble (https://www.accessable.co.uk/kingston-hospital-nhs-foundation-trust).


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