Request Appointment

Discharge Instructions: Giving Yourself Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN)

You are going home on total parenteral nutrition (TPN). TPN is a way for you to get nutrition through a tube (called a catheter) in your vein. The TPN solution contains the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrition you normally get by eating food. Your doctor will decide whether or not you can also eat food while you are on TPN.

In the hospital, you learned how to take care of your catheter and how to infuse your TPN. At home, you will need to do the following tasks:

  • Operate the infusion pump that sends the TPN into your veins

  • Start and stop your TPN infusion

  • Flush the catheter

  • Prevent problems or correct any problems that occur

  • Care for your catheter

  • Care for your pump

You will work closely with a nurse until you feel comfortable taking care of your catheter and giving yourself TPN.

This sheet provides a general overview of TPN. It contains reminders and pointers about what you’ll need to do each day. Ask your doctor or nurse for more information about caring for your catheter, using sterile technique, adding medications to your solution, and flushing your catheter. Other instruction sheets are available to guide you.

Preparing your work area

  • Choose a work area away from household traffic. Keep pets and children out of the room. Avoid working in the bathroom; there are too many germs.

  • Collect your supplies. You were shown at the hospital which supplies you need. The nurse will show you how to organize what you need each day.

  • Clean your work area:

    • Clean washable surfaces with soap and water. Dry the surface with a clean cloth or paper towel.

    • Wipe dust off surfaces that are not  washable, such as wood. Spread a clean cloth or paper towels over the surface.

    • If you need to cough or sneeze, move away from the clean surface.

Washing your hands

Wash your hands before touching any of your supplies.

  • Turn on the water.

  • Wet your hands and wrists.

  • Squirt antibacterial soap from a pump dispenser into your hands and work up a good lather.

  • Scrub your hands thoroughly. Do this for at least 2 minutes.

  • Rinse your hands with your fingers pointing downward. Allow the water to run down from your wrists to your fingertips (this way, the dirty water flows downward).

  • Dry your hands with a clean cloth or paper towel. Turn off the faucet with this towel.

  • Now that you have washed your hands, don’t touch anything except your catheter and supplies. If you touch anything else, such as the telephone or furniture, you need to wash your hands again.

Caring for your solution

  • Keep your solution refrigerated when not in use.

  • Check the label on the bag to make sure it matches your prescription exactly. Don’t use the bag if it does not match the prescription. Call your supply company or your TPN nurse.

  • Check the expiration date. Don’t use the solution if it is past the expiration date. Get a new bag from the refrigerator.

  • Check the bag for problems, such as leaks, cloudiness, or floating particles. Don’t use the bag if you see any of these things. Get a new bag from the refrigerator.

  • Warm the TPN solution by leaving it at room temperature for 2 to 4 hours. Never put the bag in the microwave. If you need to warm the solution quickly, put the bag in the sink and run warm (not hot) water over it.

  • Add any additional medications or vitamins to the bag before you infuse the solution.

Follow-up care

  • You will work closely with a home health nurse or TPN nurse.

  • Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.

When to seek medical care 

Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • Excessive thirst

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Weakness or shakiness; fainting or feeling faint

  • Sweating

  • Headache

  • Abdominal pain

  • Sudden weight loss or gain (more than 2 pounds in 24 hours)

  • Fever above100.5°F or shaking chills

  • Redness, swelling, or warmth at your insertion site

  • Drainage or pus from your insertion site

  • Shortness of breath, heart palpitations, or any chest pain



Was this helpful?

Yes No

Tell us more.

Check all that apply.

Last question: How confident are you filling out medical forms by yourself?

Not at all A little Somewhat Quite a bit Extremely

Thank You!

 Visit Other Fairview Sites 
(c) 2012 Fairview Health Services. All rights reserved.