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What is a Central Venous Catheter?
A central venous catheter (CVC), or central line, is a tube that is placed into your child’s vein. The tip of the line sits near the heart. The vein that can be used may be in the neck, groin, arm, or chest. The purpose of the line is to give medicine or nutrition. It may also be used to draw blood samples.
What is a Non-Tunneled Central Venous Catheter?
A non-tunneled catheter is for short-term use. This line can be placed in your child’s arm, neck, groin or leg.
A peripherally inserted central catheter, also known as a PICC line, is the most common type of non-tunneled central venous catheter. This line is most often placed in the arm.
Important to Know
Hand-washing. It is very important to use good handwashing when caring for the central line and handling any supplies that will be used with it. Caregivers should wash their hands and put on clean gloves before they give medicine through the central line. This is to help prevent infection.
If hands are not visibly dirty, you can use an alcohol-based product such as Purell® gel. Rub it in well on all surfaces of your hands (front and back) until dry.
If hands are visibly dirty, use soap and water. Wash well for at least 15 seconds. Use a new, clean towel or paper towel to fully dry hands.
Nails. Fake nails can increase the risk of infection because they are hard to keep clean. For this reason, we recommend that caregivers do not have them when caring for a central line. Nails should be kept short and clean.
Activity. Everyday activities are allowed but avoid rough activities, such as contact play, that could cause the central line to be pulled out or damaged. Always protect the central venous catheter by making sure the dressing is secure with no loose edges of the dressing. The tubings/lines need to be secured so if they are pulled on they will not come out.
Securing the Line
Your child’s care team will decide the best way to keep the line secure. A Statlock® or SecurAcath® are devices that are made to secure the central line.
A StatLock® is a white, sticky tape with a plastic holder. The wings of the central venous catheter will be placed into the plastic holder. The StatLock® is changed with each dressing change. It can be changed more often if wet, soiled or no longer sticking.
A SecurAcath® is only used with a PICC line. It is an orange plastic piece that the PICC line sits in. It is secured underneath your child’s skin. The SecurAcath® is not changed with dressing changes. It stays in place for as long as your child has the PICC.
Sutures also may be used to secure a central line. To prevent tugging on the IV lines, the line may be anchored with an extra device that is outside the dressing.
A central line increases your child’s risk for an infection. A central line associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI) is an infection that occurs when germs enter your child’s bloodstream through the central line.
Signs that your child may have an CLABSI can include:
drainage around the insertion site.
At American Family Children’s Hospital (AFCH), we want you to be aware of this risk. We are doing everything we can to help lower the risk of your child getting a CLABSI.
What are we doing in the hospital to reduce the risk of an infection with a central line?
The person who placed your child’s central line wore a mask, hat, sterile gown and gloves. They also used sterile technique.
We do not want your child to have the central line any longer than it is needed. To be sure of this, the healthcare team will review if the central line is still needed every day.
Nurses and doctors will wash their hands, wear gloves and clean the needleless connector before they give medicines or draw blood from the central line.
Your child will be cleaned daily using chlorhexidine (CHG). CHG is a solution used to decrease the risk of infection. If your child is less than 2 months of age, they will be washed with regular baby soap.
To prevent tubing from coming apart it is securely attached to the central line.
The dressing over the central line will be kept intact, clean and dry. If it becomes soiled, wet or loose the nurse will change the dressing as soon as possible.
What can you do to help prevent infection?
The most important step is handwashing. Wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub. Hand hygiene must be done:
When you enter and leave your child’s room,
Before and after you prepare food, eat, or feed your child,
After you use the bathroom or change a diaper.
Ask your child’s visitors to wash their hands when they enter and exit your child’s room.
Do not allow visitors to touch the catheter or tubing.
Watch your nurses and doctors to make sure they clean their hands before and after they touch the central catheter. Do not be afraid to remind them to clean their hands!
Keep the central venous catheter tubing out of the diaper area when changing the diaper.
Do not allow your child to suck or chew on the tubing.
If you have any concerns about your child’s central venous catheter, or the way it is cared for, talk to your child’s doctor or nurse.