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IV Catheter Site Care

An IV catheter may exit the body from the chest or the arm. Both sites are cleaned and dressed in the same way. Clean the site as directed and follow the steps on this sheet.

Image of IV catheter

Step 1

Remove the old dressing

  • Wash your hands well. Put on clean gloves if you use them.

  • Peel the edges of the old dressing away from the skin. Hold the catheter; pull the dressing upward.

  • Check the exit site. Call the nurse if you have any of the problems listed on the bottom of this sheet.

Image of IV catheter

Step 2

Clean the site

  • If you wore gloves at step 1, remove and discard them. Wash your hands again. Put on a new pair of sterile gloves.

  • Clean around the exit site by swabbing in circles from the area closest to the site outward. Repeat 3 times. Use alcohol and antiseptic as directed. Air-dry after each swabbing.

  • Clean the catheter tube with alcohol. Gently wipe from the exit site down the tube.

Image of IV catheter

Step 3

Place a new dressing

  • Place a new dressing over the exit site. Seal all the edges of the dressing. On a chest site, try not to tape over a nipple.

  • Roll up the catheter tube. Tape it against the skin. Do not tape on top of the dressing.

Call your nurse 

Contact your nurse right away if you have any of the following:

  • Redness near the exit site or along the catheter line

  • Swelling in the arm, neck, or chest

  • Fever or chills

  • Drainage at the exit site

  • The catheter slips or comes out

  • Temperature over 100.5°F (38.1°C)


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