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getting rid of an air bubble in an IV line

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by Implacable Implacable (New) New

How do you get rid of an air bubble in an IV line?

MikeyJ, RN

Specializes in Peds, PICU, Home health, Dialysis.

There are a few things you can do but I typically just flush the line again by disconnecting the IV and letting it flow into a garbage can. I sometimes use a NS syringe, kink the top of the tubing and use one of the top ports to flush.. but it is easier just to let the line run for a few seconds.

GingerSue

Has 20 years experience.

straighten the tubing and tap it (with a pen) so the air bubble rises

MikeyJ, RN

Specializes in Peds, PICU, Home health, Dialysis.

straighten the tubing and tap it (with a pen) so the air bubble rises

Whenever I do that, the air bubble always seems to dislodge itself again.

Becca608

Specializes in med-surg.

Whenever I do that, the air bubble always seems to dislodge itself again.

And the pump goes back into occlusion. I have been told so many different ways of how to fix this which defy my reality. I will wait for my preceptership and revisit this issue.

If you just tap, then you just send the bubble up to the next port. It will eventually show up again on the IV pump. I have spent many moments trying to get this bubble gone ONLY TO BE TOLD BY THE LPNS that will be graduating with us that the little 'champagne bubbles' in the line don't count.

I disagree. Lots of little bubbles can add up to a large amount of air in the line. I am not willing to walk away from ANY air in the line.

Thanks in advance!

anurseuk

Specializes in Paediatric Cardic critical care. Has 6 years experience.

If it's a small one I'll flick it so it goes back up the tube into the drip chamber, or i'll disconnect and flush the line.

gt4everpn, BSN, RN

Specializes in Licensed Practical Nurse.

I was wondering this myself seeing that I hung an IV yesterday, I ran a small amount into the garbage but some air was still left in the line, I didnt want to waste the med (Vancomycin) cause it comes pouring out so fast but wasting alittle is better than an air embolus, thanks!!

anurseuk

Specializes in Paediatric Cardic critical care. Has 6 years experience.

I was wondering this myself seeing that I hung an IV yesterday, I ran a small amount into the garbage but some air was still left in the line, I didnt want to waste the med (Vancomycin) cause it comes pouring out so fast but wasting alittle is better than an air embolus, thanks!!

Also if you have wasted a bit too much just make up a new infusion, better for the patient and all involved :specs:

I've been told by several of my ER docs at work that it takes over 10ml of air to actually cause any problems. Not that it isn't good practice to remove as much as possible, I always do.

I take a needle without a syringe on it and stick it in one of the ports below the air-the fluid and air will flow out of the port via needle, then just pull out the needle when the air is removed. It saves the time and discomfort of untaping and disconnecting the tubing to the hub.

Larry77, RN

Specializes in Trauma/ED. Has 10 years experience.

You really have too much time on your hands if you're worrying about small bubbles in an IV line...the doc that said it takes over 10ml's is right. Unless I'm working with a central line I really do not worry about small bubbles. I have had many, many very sick patients who get 2 liters or more of fluids within 30min to 1hr...do you think we are going to stop and take out a few bubbles...lol.

Seriously...don't worry about it!!!

crb613, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med Surg/Tele/ER. Has 7 years experience.

If you have a secondary bag hanging....I just back prime. Only one bag I put a 10ml syringe where your secondary bag would connect & back prime into the syringe....or just take it off the pump & let it run through the line until clear if its just my primary fluids.

chenoaspirit, ASN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg, Home Health.

I usually dont worry about the small ones, but I have taken a 12 ml empty syringe and connected to the port below the bubble and pulled the bubble out with the syringe. Ive flushed into trashcan and Ive flicked the tubing to allow the bubble to rise. If its a small amount, dont waste your time.

SillyStudent, ASN, RN

Specializes in ER/ICU, CCL, EP. Has 8 years experience.

I was wondering this myself seeing that I hung an IV yesterday, I ran a small amount into the garbage but some air was still left in the line, I didnt want to waste the med (Vancomycin) cause it comes pouring out so fast but wasting alittle is better than an air embolus, thanks!!

I just use a NS 250 ml bag as the primary tubing and backflush the piggyback (attached to a port above the pump) by lowering it, which usually shoves the air bubbles back into the top of the piggyback. I don't seem to get any air in line when I do that. I don't like to waste those antibiotics either. :)

Or if the pump has a "backflush" function you can back flush the air into the drip chamber it rises to the top.

nerdtonurse?, BSN, RN

Specializes in ICU, Telemetry.

I just do a couple of different things (so far, more things to learn in years to come...)

1. Put end of tubing over trash can, open clamp, hold tubing at 45 degree angle and "stretch and flick" to get the bubbles out. This works if someone's forgotten that albumin needs to be vented, and you get the "head of beer" reaction.

2. If it's a big bubble, I kink the line at the port above, and suck everything into a 10cc empty syringe. Even when a student had more air than fluid, it only took a couple of pulls to get the bubbles.

3. Let it just run thru until it's clear if it's something like NS.

4. If it's above the pump and a piggy'd med with something like NS, leave the flush hanging and open it's port, then drop med bag until you see the NS zip up into the med bag. I'd be VERY careful if it was a piggy hanging with something like potassium. You might be able to infuse with it, but maybe it wouldn't be good to let it sit together in a bag...

Now, if I could just better at sticking the patients in the first place!

danissa, LPN, LVN

Specializes in midwifery, NICU. Has 12 years experience.

one thing that worries me from some posts, and I have seen it before, is the flushing of the line into the trash can. Trash cans are not clean, and hanging the patient end of an IVI over one cant be a good thing!

We use a trolley, have a sterile field, or at best a clean field, where excess fluid / air bubbles, can be run into a gallipot, then reconnected to the patient.

Trash cans for trash....:uhoh21:

one thing that worries me from some posts, and I have seen it before, is the flushing of the line into the trash can. Trash cans are not clean, and hanging the patient end of an IVI over one cant be a good thing!

We use a trolley, have a sterile field, or at best a clean field, where excess fluid / air bubbles, can be run into a gallipot, then reconnected to the patient.

Trash cans for trash....:uhoh21:

When I do this, I am usually at least 2-3 feet above the trash can. I would NEVER EVER put the end of the tubing near the trash can. I cannot see how this would be a problem the way you make it sound. My aim is usually pretty good I guess...

Pet peeve...flushing the line into a trash can. Do you want someone sticking something into you that you just ran into a trash can? Prefer to run it into the sterile iv tubing bag that you just opened. Pumps can't run a big enough bubble into someone to hurt them. We clear the line so we don't have to hear the pump alarm and because it eases patients concerns about air bubbles. Use the principle that air rises...drop the bag lower than the line, let the bubble rise to the end and out or milk the line or make sure your ports are up so bubble don't catch in them as you run the line.

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