Infusing through Central Lines - dummies

By Claire Boyd

Central lines (or vascular access devices) are catheters placed into large central veins and used to administer long-term medications, parenteral nutrition, and/or chemotherapy drugs. Specially trained nurses and doctors undertake the care of central lines. Here are a few important points to note:

  • Check whether any medications are to be delivered through a designated lumen.

  • Check whether the medications need to be delivered via an infusion pump.

  • Change the dressing every seven days or as required (that is, when soiled).

  • Flush the line to ensure catheter patency. Clean the end of the catheter with 70 percent alcohol and 2 percent chlorhexidine and let it dry. Administer the correct amount of 0.9 percent sodium chloride solution through the catheter hub. Flush the line after every medication administration.

  • Lock central lines that are used intermittently — refers to the practice of infusing heparin or normal saline solution to prevent clots and maintain patency throughout the line.