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Understanding The Different Use Cases For A Saline Flush & A Heparin Flush

Understanding The Different Use Cases For A Saline Flush & A Heparin Flush

Two items that are commonly found in just about any medical setting are saline flushes and heparin flushes. While these items are usually used together when treating a patient, they each fulfill a different purpose.

What Is The Purpose of a Saline Flush?

A saline flush is used to help prevent IV catheters from becoming blocked and to help remove any medication that may be left at the catheter site.

A saline flush is a sterile mix of salt and water that is compatible with your body’s fluids and tissues. Typically, the healthcare provider will fill a syringe using a bottle of normal saline solution or use a prefilled flush syringe that’s been prepared under sterile conditions.

To flush the IV, first, clean the IV port or hub, then connect an IV saline flush syringe to the port, slowly pull back on the syringe plunger, inject the saline solution into the IV line, and then start the medication drip. Before beginning another infusion, your provider will flush the line again.

What Is The Purpose of a Heparin Flush?

Heparin is an anticoagulant or blood thinner that prevents the formation of blood clots. A Heparin flush is used to flush an IV catheter, which helps to prevent blockage in the tube after you have received an IV infusion.

The heparin flush is injected directly into the catheter lock of your IV (intravenous) line. You may be shown how to use a heparin flush at home.

Do not use heparin flush if you do not fully understand how to flush your IV line and properly dispose of used needles, IV tubing, and other items used to inject your medicines. Follow your provider’s instructions.

Do not use heparin flush if it has changed colors or has particles in it. Call your pharmacist for a new prescription.

Do You Flush With Saline or Heparin First?

To help you remember the order for flushing your catheter when giving IV medications, we use the word (letters) SASH.

SASH is a mnemonic device that will help you remember the order you should go in when administering these solutions. SASH stands for Saline, Administration of the drug, Saline, and then Heparin. This is the recommended procedure to follow when administering just about any IV drug.

It’s important to remember to always wash your hands thoroughly prior to touching your catheter and always clean the injection cap with an alcohol pad prior to use.

Flushing PICC Lines

PICC lines, or peripherally inserted central catheter lines, are long, thin, flexible tubes that are inserted into the veins just above the elbow. This tube is then inserted into a large vein located just near the heart.

When IV fluids are actively being administered, the PICC lines should be continuously flushed with saline to keep blood from clotting and blocking the line. When the PICC line isn’t being used, it should be flushed before and after administering medication, after blood is drawn, and at least every 8-12 hours.

Make sure to use the “push and pause” method when flushing a PICC line. This involves pushing a little saline solution, pausing for a moment, and then pushing more saline solution. This allows you to more effectively clean the inside of the catheter.

IV Flush Protocol

When flushing an IV, it’s important to understand and follow the proper protocols your hospital or healthcare center has put in place.  While your organization’s specific protocol may differ slightly, here is a general protocol that is safe to follow.

  1. Wash your hands
  2. Prepare your supplies (flushes, alcohol wipes, and any other medical supplies required)
  3. Wipe down the connector with an alcohol swab
  4. Remove the syringe from the plastic bag and remove the cap
  5. Check the syringe for any air bubbles and remove them
  6. Attach the syringe to the connector
  7. Push down on the plunger to begin flushing the line
  8. Safely discard the syringe and any other supplies you’ve used

The saline solution should be administered with only slight pressure. If you’re finding it difficult to flush the line, it’s best to stop and contact your provider to assist you.

Buying Saline & Heparin Flushes

Preferred Medical carries a wide range of pre-filled saline flushes and heparin flushes that are in stock and ready to ship.  We are a full-line distributor and manufacturer of medical supplies to hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, and healthcare centers all around the country.

Our customer service representatives are standing by to answer your questions Contact us today toll-free at 800.722.7865. We look forward to hearing from you!