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Saline flush IV vs irrigation, difference?

withasmilelpn specializes in Rehab, LTC, Peds, Hospice.

Just curious if anyone knows exactly what the difference is between the 9% saline used in flushes for IVs and that used for irrigating wounds? We were running low on our flushes one night and I wondered whether in a pinch it could be used if we ran out? One of the other nurses said no, never to use it. (It does state on the bottle for irrigation only). So I called the pharmacist to ask and she said she thought it was the preservatives, however both the bottle and the syringe clearly state no preservatives and are both sterile. So then she said she didn't know (and sent us more flushes .) Don't plan on ever using, now just really curious what the difference is.

It's 0.9% Sodium Chloride is the same thing as Normal Saline. I would NOT advise using NS out of a bottle that is used for irrigation as a flush for a PIV or central line. Good luck!

A saline bottle for irrigation cannot be used IV. I used to know why, but I can't remember. However, you can take a liter IV bag of NS and drawn up some flushes from there because that is not only the same concentration but is also meant for IV use.

withasmilelpn specializes in Rehab, LTC, Peds, Hospice.

Thanks! When one of the other nurses said you should never use it, she thought 'it was different at the molecular level or something', I thought that was unlikely and tried to investigate as I said. I think it probably has more to do with the difficulty of keeping it sterile more than anything. Thanks again for your reply!

NursingAgainstdaOdds specializes in Med-Surg/Tele, ER.

I think it's likely the reason it's unadvisable to use NS from the bottles for a flush is because it is so easy to contaminate the NS if you're trying to draw-up the solution with a syringe from the wide-mouthed spout. Just my theory.

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