Heparin Drips

Nurses General Nursing

Updated:   Published

Specializes in Critical Care/Vascular Access.


I've always wondered why so many nurses think that it is necessary to pause a heparin drip for 10-15min before drawing a pTT. I've talked to multiple doctors, pharmacists, and other IV therapists (not to mention a bit of Googling) and have yet to hear any real rationale for it aside from "it's what I was taught", yet I've heard this myth many times over my years of nursing and seen many nurses do it. My girlfriend is a new nurse and was also told to do it, even though no rationale was given. If anything it will give you an artificially low pTT, given heparin's short half-life and goal to keep the pTT at an elevated therapeutic level. Obviously if you're drawing from the same arm as the drip, or a different lumen of the same PICC, etc, then you would pause the drip before the draw to avoid contamination, but why pause for 10 minutes as a general rule?

Do any of you practice this? If so, what is your rationale? I wonder where this myth originated and how it became so widespread.

Specializes in New Critical care NP, Critical care, Med-surg, LTC.

Didn't we go through this same conversation almost two years ago? 

It's generally a phlebotomy protocol that if the infusion is running on the same side as the draw it's held for 10+ minutes. If it's on the other side, no pause needed. 

Overall, most seemed to agree it's not necessary, but probably isn't causing any harm, either. 

Specializes in Critical Care/Vascular Access.
22 hours ago, JBMmom said:

Didn't we go through this same conversation almost two years ago?

I have no idea if it was brought up two years ago.

Thanks for the response though.

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