Alcohol swabs and iv access ports

Nurses Medications


Does anyone know of any articles that state that it is ineffective to swab iv ports with alcohol. I have heard it both ways...always swab..then I've heard it isn't effective...any clues?

Specializes in Critical Care, ED, Cath lab, CTPAC,Trauma.

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What information do you have? What do you need this for?

Google is your friend.....Let me google that for you

Specializes in Trauma Surgical ICU.

I just love how you do that Esme12 :) Doesn't take much to amuse me LOL

Specializes in Critical Care, ED, Cath lab, CTPAC,Trauma.

Go to Let me google that for is a great search engine. It always gives great results.

Specializes in Trauma Surgical ICU.

Oh I know all about google.. I was referring to your link and how it types in the search box then shows the results lol.. I only have ever seen that with your links using google :)

Specializes in Med/Surg, Academics.

The link below is a study about disinfection of IV catheter hubs.

American Nurse Today

Important point:

The inoculated access ports that hadn’t been disinfected grew 103 organisms. No microorganisms were recovered from any port that had been disinfected for 15 seconds with alcohol alone or chlorhexidine/ alcohol. Investigators concluded that scrubbing a catheter access port for 15 seconds with friction using either alcohol or chlorhexidine/alcohol was effective in sterilizing mechanical valve ports inoculated with a 105-CFU suspension of microorganisms. Results were the same whether the valve was made with positive, negative, or neutral displacement technologies. may give you some information you were looking for, particularly pages 20 and 54-55. While bloodstream infections associated with peripheral IV's is low, and primarily caused by skin flora present during insertion, I believe it's still recommended that you "scrub the hub" for 15 seconds prior to accessing any port.
Specializes in Oncology.

The site is

I always use alcohol swap when I access IV line. If I don't I feel awkward. I know many nurses do not but I don't think that related to theory alcohol swap ineffective. It is rather saving them time and not a good practice. If I was a patient, you bet I will make sure you do if you don't rub that port.

Specializes in Medical, Surgical, Critical-Care.

I always "scrub to hub". I always figure, this is a direct entry line to the blood stream so it should at least be clean.

Specializes in Infusion Nursing, Home Health Infusion.

YES absolutely one should scrub (not swipe) catheter hubs (before cap changes)and needleless connectors(NCs) with either alcohol,chlorhexadine gluconate /alchohol combonation or tincture of iodine . It should be consistently and thoroughly done prior to each and every use. Both the catheter hub and the NCs are a known source for the development of catheter related bloodstream infections. To do otherwise is substandard care as this is clearly the standard of care based upon studies that prove mind you, it is not the only way for bacteria to get in..but it is most definately a pathway. The actual time to scrub has not yet been determined due to limited studies on the matter. The one I see cited the most by the IV experts is the Kaler study.( Kaler W. Chinn R. Successful disinfection of needleless access ports: A matter of time and friction. Journal of Association of Vascualr Access 2007 12(3).

They show that 5 seconds is not enough...10 is about right but they recommend 15 seconds. Time yourself b/c that 15 seconds is a lot longer then you think..I had to time myself several times before I got it right. It is best to use a product such as Site scrub IPA, a great product that allows you a no touch technique. I love this product. There has been a recent surge in products like these to better nursing care in this area and that is why you see new products like thses and others such as Curos that are caps that stay in place on the needleless connectors that are impregnated with IPA (alcohol). It also did not hurt that Medicare stopped paying as of Oct 2008 any central line associated bloodstream infections that the patient acquired while hospitalized and reducing catheter associated bloodstream infections got added to the national pt safety goals. So finally someone someone is paying attention to the issue.

May I also point out the importance of making sure the caps (NCs get changed at least weekly) and the hubs need to be scrubbed as well. I see a lot of homecare patients return with an existing PICC where the Ncs NEVER got changed and bifilm can start to grow in them after just 5 days.

there is a really cool poster out there somewhere (we have them in our hospital but I've seen it online) that shows the difference on the hub under the bioluminecent light at 5, 10, and 15 seconds of scrubing. Its a great visual. I have read recently that the standard for central lines and piccs is 30 seconds. Even though my hospital only requires 15, I go the whole 30. I force myself to count every single time, never guess. I'm not going to be the one who gives a pt a central line infection if I can help it!

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