What is a Saline Flush?
A saline flush is a mixture of salt and water that is compatible with your body’s fluids and tissues. It is used to push any residual medication or fluid through the IV line and into your vein. This keeps the PIV line clean and reduces the risk of infection or occlusion.
If you are no longer receiving fluids or medications through your IV line, a saline flush can also be used at scheduled times to make sure your IV line stays open and free from any blood. This ensures that the catheter is still clear and available to use again if more medications or fluids are needed later on.
How Does it Work?
First, 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.
Next, your healthcare provider cleans the IV port or hub, connects an IV saline flush syringe to the port, injects the flush solution into the IV line, and then starts the medication drip if indicated. Before beginning another medication in the line, your provider will flush the line again.
When Do You Flush an IV Line?
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.
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 before use, you may feel a cold sensation.
Just because an IV flushes well, does not mean there isn’t a problem. A painful flush may indicate an infiltration or phlebitis. Tell your provider right away if you feel any pain or discomfort.