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Flushing facts


Before and after giving medication through a peripheral I.V. line, I flush the catheter with 0.9% sodium chloride according to protocol. In a nonemergency situation, how fast should I flush the line? None of the standards or protocols I've checked address this point.—W.D., VA.

Before giving the medication, assess for catheter and vein patency by aspirating for blood return and flushing the line with 2 to 3 ml over about 1 minute. Watch for swelling or other signs of infiltration. Avoid flushing too quickly, which could damage the vein and lead to phlebitis or infiltration.

If you encounter any resistance while flushing, stop immediately; never flush against resistance. And never administer any I.V. drug or fluid if you fail to get free-flowing blood return.

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© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.