PICC - dressing change
You have a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC). This is a tube that goes into a vein in your arm. It carries nutrients and medicines into your body. It is also used to draw blood when you need to have blood tests.
A dressing is a special bandage that blocks germs and keeps your catheter site dry and clean.You should change the dressing about once a week. You need to change it sooner if it becomes loose or gets wet or dirty.
Since a PICC is placed in one of your arms and you need two hands to change the dressing, it is best to have someone help you with the dressing change. Your nurse will teach you how your dressing should be changed. Have the person who helps you also watch and listen to the nurse's instructions.
Your doctor has given you a prescription for the supplies you need. You can buy these items at a medical supply store. It helps to know the name of your catheter and what company makes it. Write this information down and keep it handy.
The information below outlines the steps for changing your dressing. Follow any additional instructions your doctor or nurse gives you.
To change the dressing, you need:
If you have been prescribed a dressing change kit, follow the instructions for using the supplies in your kit.
Prepare to change your dressing in a sterile (very clean) way.
Remove the dressing and check your skin.
Clean the area and catheter.
To place a new dressing:
Tape the catheter to secure it:
Throw away the face mask and gloves and wash your hands when done. Write down the date you changed your dressing.
Keep all the clamps on your catheter closed at all times. If instructed, change the caps (ports) at the end of the catheter when you change your dressing and after blood draws.
It is OK to take showers and baths 7 to 10 days after your catheter is put in place. When you do, make sure the dressing is secure and your catheter site stays dry. Do not let the catheter site go under water if you are soaking in a bathtub.
Call your doctor or nurse if you have:
Also call your doctor if your catheter:
Best Practices: Evidenced-based Nursing Procedures. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2007:chap 4: Intravascular therapy.
Infusion Nurses Society. Infusion Nursing: Standards of Practice; Revised 2011. J Infus Nurs. 2011;34(1S):S37-S48.
Updated by: John A. Daller, MD, PhD., Department of Surgery, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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