By Sue Carrington | 

If you’re in the hospital and receiving medication through an IV, you should expect your health care provider to use a saline flush before and after any medication is administered.

What is a saline flush?

The flush is a mixture of salt and water that’s compatible with your body’s fluids and tissues. Your provider prepares the flush using a syringe and bottle of normal saline solution – or uses a prefilled flush syringe that’s been prepared under sterile conditions and is ready for use.   

Why is it done?

The flush clears any blood or medicine from inside of your IV line, so the line won’t get blocked. This keeps the entry area clean and sterile.

The procedure reduces the risk of infection and clogging, which can block important blood vessels and cause such problems as tissue damage. It also ensures you receive the complete dose of medication and nothing is left in the tubing.

How often do I need it?

Flushes are usually scheduled once every eight hours, and before and after administering medication through your IV line.

If you’re receiving several medications through the same line, flushing will be used in between drugs to prevent mixing of medications that are incompatible. For IV lines that are continuously in use, a saline flush isn’t needed; the infusing IV fluid itself prevents clot formation.

How does it work?

To flush the IV, your health care provider cleans the IV port or hub, connects an IV saline flush syringe to the port, slowly pulls back on the syringe plunger, injects the flush solution into the IV line, and then starts the medication drip. Before beginning another medication in the line, your provider will flush the line again.

What does it feel like?

Flushing with saline should be painless if the tubing is in its proper place, although if the saline isn’t warmed, you may feel a cold sensation.  

A painful flush may indicate an infiltration or phlebitis. Tell your provider right away if you feel any pain or discomfort.

Learn more about the most common IV infusion procedures here.

 

References:

Photo Source – http://ourspecialneedslife.blogspot.com/2009/07/giving-iv-antibiotics-at-home.html

IV Flush Syringe – https://www.drugwatch.com/iv-flush-syringe/

IV Push – http://allnurses.com/nursing-student-assistance/iv-push-307824.html

The Facts About Intravenous Catheter Lines – http://www.thebody.com/content/art1786.html

IV Q&A: To Flush or Not to Flush – https://www.nurses.com/doc/iv-q-a-to-flush-or-not-to-flush-0001

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