RN's removing surgical drains

Specialties Med-Surg


I am desperatly searching information/policies & procedures on RN's removing JP , penrose and/or hemovac drains . We have been asked to do this and I would love to talk to anyone that works in a facility where RN's do remove surgical drains. Thank you so much.

Interesting to see what others can & can't do. On our ward we take everything out: chest drains (retrosternal, pericardial, pleural), ICCs, epidurals, CVLs, belovac drains, pacing wires.. We have to show compentancy when first on ward ofcourse.

Don't forget to be careful when taking out ICC to prevent pneumothorax, get pt to hold breath, pinch skin to seal, if no purse-string suture to close site put on steri-strips, always seal with vasoline-gauze & air tight dressing.


I am a nursing student. On my first rotation to the ICU I watched an NP remove a chest tube. I guess it was my bad because I did not ask more questions about this and just assumed (and we all know what assuming does to U & ME!) she did it because she was an NP, as opposed to an RN.

I guess I missed that day of check offs though. I am about to graduate and have not learned anything about removal of drains. In my schools' defense though let me say I was in Peds until last week and moved to Med-Surg at that time. If this is not addressed in this setting I will be sure to bring it up. I certainly do not want to be blind sided with a procedure I have never studied/performed when I get out into the real world.

Thanks for all the info and the original question...you have all helped in preparing me for a safer future...

Lisa T.

Specializes in Pediatric Rehabilitation.

Routinely the residents remove them, we do them ever now and then.

Our patients are pretty good at removing the tubes for us, inadvertantly of course..suture and all :D

Ick. Tracy, I removed my first one on a kid yesterday. He was actually really good, but ick.

Lord!! in Plastics we are like plumbers...we remove drains all the time especialy with the flap reconstructions.

Specializes in Community Health Nurse.

I'm sitting here trying to remember if I have ever pulled a surgical drain of any kind before? :confused: Gee, I can't remember! :eek:

It's only been five years since I've worked in nursing. Guess I better sign up for that RN refresher course afterall. :chuckle

It depends on the surgeon, but yes we do remove various types of drains.

Doesn't it depend on your states mandated scope of practice?

I've removed a wide variety of surgical drains... chest tubes being the exception. Our surgeons remove those.

Particularly with JP drains... make certain you open the drain to stop the compression before pulling. I explain the procedure to the patient... and instruct them to breathe. I count to 3 with them... and tell them that one the count of 3... to exhale somewhat forcefully... this distraction helps to keep their body relaxed so the drain pulls more easily. Nothing worse than trying to pull a drain on someone who is tensing up against it. :eek:


Specializes in MS Home Health.

I did that when I worked at the hospital. The first time the surgeon showed me how he wanted it done, when to call him and information as such. He then expected the nurse to do it for him. I never had a problem taking one out. I was suprised the first time I watched it done how long they are...


Yes, I have pulled surgical JP drains and removed central lines and staples. I can say that the first time my manager told me I could pull a central line, I was so nervous that I made her do it and now, I do them all the time. I would check with your manager and make sure there is a policy saying that this is allowed and if you are still uncomfortable, have the manager or god forbid the doctor so it.

After my gallbladder surgery 14 years ago the RN removed my drain tube in my room before I was discharges. Went home with the JP tube and doctor removed that when I had the staples out.

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