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S.O.S. If a peripheral line gets wet in the shower, can water get inside?



The patient is infusing I.V. antibiotics at home. The patient wrapped their peripheral line in saran wrap before showering but it was not effective and the tegaderm underneath was soaked, and upon pulling it up the line feels wet. I do see some water inside the head of the catheter but how do I know if that's shower water or saline from it being flushed and locked? Patient can't remember if the water was there before but doesn't think so.

Is it possible for water to get inside the catheter from the top where the tubing and connector comes out?

Home nurses in this company are not allowed to replace peripheral lines at home. If we were to pull the line, the patient would not be able to have the line replaced until Monday and would have to miss 3 doses of antibiotics.

Thank you!

Double-Helix, BSN, RN

Specializes in PICU, Sedation/Radiology, PACU. Has 10 years experience.

Remove the dressing, dry the site, retape the IV, and assess it. Does it leak at the site when flushed? Is it swollen, red, painful? Theoretically, if the tubing and hub was immersed in water, some could have gotten inside, but I don't find that likely and the saline also remains in the hub and tubing from previous flushes.

I'm sure if the patient goes to the local urgent care, they can replace the IV so antibiotics can continue as scheduled.

Thank you SO much for your reply. I had figured that the water was likely from a saline flush but I wasn't sure. Otherwise, the site looks great. I'll replace the tegaderm after the tape on the butterfly dries.

Edited by MissHopeful111

As long as the luer lock end piece was on, water would not get into the catheter. Just dry the insertion area, clean, and redress. Monitor for infection around the insertion site since that area got wet and was uncovered for a while.

Not a good idea to post patient care photos on a forum, though. You will want to remove that.

You're right, thank you! I suppose in the worry of the moment that got away from us. I tried to delete it but it saved as an attached image. Would you happen to know how to delete that?

Never mind, got the picture removed! Thank you for checking me on that- I'm very new at this so I'm not completely on my game yet. Thank you for your advice as well. Truly appreciated.

EllaBella1, BSN

Specializes in ICU. Has 6 years experience.

Strange that a patient would have a peripheral IV at home, no?

blondy2061h, MSN, RN

Specializes in Oncology. Has 15 years experience.

Strange that a patient would have a peripheral IV at home, no?

Nah, I've definitely sent people home with peripheral IV's. Sometimes they're waiting to be scheduled for a PICC line, have had a PICC line and needed it removed due to infection or thrombus but still needed to finish the course of antibiotics, or need to clear anticoagulant before going for a PICC.

Stranger than a home care RN can't place a peripheral IV when home care companies I have worked with have nurses that place PICCs at home.

Remind the patient plastic wrap is splash proof not water proof. That being said a small amount of water in the line won't kill them (remember we reconstitute drugs with sterile water) before all the know it alls start attacking me I know tap water isn't sterile but the patient is already on prophylactic antibiotics and there isn't going to be any bacteria in a fraction of an ml of water that isn't already colonized on them or their home. I would redress and flush the IV. If there are no signs of infection, leaking, phlebitis, or swelling then don't change the site till it's time to.

But if you're having enough doubt to ask a bunch of strangers then it probably would be worth pulling it and starting with a fresh site... assuming that's an option.