PICC Line Information

What are PICC lines?

PICC, or peripherally inserted central catheter, is a long IV catheter that is inserted through a peripheral vein in the arm and is threaded up to the superior vena cava.  PICC lines are used for antibiotic therapy, chemotherapy, TPN, lab work, pain medications, blood transfusions, and hydration.  They can be used for almost any purpose you would use a central line for.  PICC lines are not recommended for machine injected contrast solutions, as used for CT’s and IVP’s.

Who would benefit from a PICC placement?

PICC’s are a good choice for any patient with IV therapy for 3 days or longer. Patients with poor venous access or a terminal patient may benefit from PICC placement even if therapy may last less than 3 days.  Patients receiving therapy that can be irritating to peripheral veins, or that require frequent lab draws or IV starts are also good candidates to consider.

How long can you use a PICC?

PICC lines, like Hickmans and other central catheters, have no maximum amount of time that they may remain indwelling. PICC lines have the lowest rates of infection of all central lines.  PICC lines are affordable catheters that can be cost-effective for short and long-term therapy.  PICC lines are perfect for Home Care.

When should a PICC line be considered?

PICC and other central line placement should be addressed at or shortly after admission.  Assessing the patient early on may save the patient frequent, painful, and unnecessary needle sticks.

What should I do if I think a patient would benefit from a PICC or central line?

If you think a patient may be a PICC candidate, save one arm from IV starts and lab draws.  PICC placement is normally done in the non-dominant arm, if suitable.  PICC placement should not be considered on extremities that are fractured, or have cellulitis or phlebitis.  Other contraindications may include dialysis access, pacemaker or stroke affected extremities.  Address any concerns regarding IV access to the managing physician early on.  Early planning can make PICC insertions much easier resulting in increased patient comfort and satisfaction.  This is especially true when peripheral access is difficult or long-term IV access may be needed.

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