Use of central line/picc line for routine lab draws

:confused: Is it ok to use central/PICC lines to draw routine labs from just to save the patient a stick?


Specializes in CVICU. 443 Posts

Yes, we do it all the time in my ICU. But...refer to your own facility's policy and procedures for your own guidance.


Specializes in ICU. 1,097 Posts

If there are no orders saying that you can't. Flush it good when you're done!


193 Posts

I think you're going to find the answer to this depends on your particular floor, institution, etc policy. Sometimes physicians/nurses are very against the use of blood draws from PICCS b/c it does run the risk of compromising the integrity of the line which can be seen as not worth it for a little stick. On the other hand, many people are hard sticks and if they have a central line in place, particularly a PICC, phlebotomists cannot draw from that arm which only really leaves the other, which can be difficult to near impossible depending on the pt. Also, is the pt on TPN? TPN running through the same line can throw off values, esp of electrolytes, so that is often a contraindication to drawing off the PICC, although it is possible to still do it if you turn off the TPN for a period of time, flush well, etc.

On my floor we draw off the PICCs all the time except in MOST cases when pt is on TPN. When I was working in an infusion center too we drew off central lines of all pts who had them. I personally love to draw off central lines, it's quick, it's easy, and I think saving someone a stick, or several, is important. That and peripheral draws in my hospital are done by phlebotomy, so with central draws I can control when the lab is drawn - ever had a "stat" troponin drawn 4 hrs later, or not at all? Some people say drawing off a central line will make the labs unable to properly analyze them, but thus far I have never found that to be the case.

Last thought, I believe mediports are in general more suited to blood draws than PICCs, but that said I doubt anyone would ok accessing a mediport for that reason unless the pt had no other access.

Does that help?

casi, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC. Has 3 years experience. 2,063 Posts

I work in TCU and we draw from PICCs and central lines a lot. Just need a doctors order saying it's okay to draw from the line.


Has 6 years experience. 902 Posts

:confused: Is it ok to use central/PICC lines to draw routine labs from just to save the patient a stick?

I'll only use it, if I don't have an art line. As long as you've stopped any drips or infusions running through the other line(s) of the PICC or central line, and have flushed with at least 10-20 ml of NS, then, sure, I always try to save my patient from an unnecessary stick. If checking the PTT for a heparin drip, I will use the art line, if available, or stick the patient on the other side. I've seen too many erroneous high PTT's from inadequate flushing of the PICC/central line.

Edited by sunnycalifRN


Specializes in LTC, med/surg, hospice. Has 7 years experience. 1,198 Posts

We do not draw blood from PICCs as per our policy but we do from other types of central lines unless there is an order that says not to OR the line doesn't draw blood. We do have some people with portacaths that work well but don't draw blood.

RNperdiem, RN

Has 14 years experience. 4,487 Posts

Sure, why not?


Specializes in Med-Surg. Has 3 years experience. 45 Posts

I spent six months receiving chemotherapy for lymphoma this year. Lymphoma is gone! I am well and anxious to find another RN job. I had a power PICC in my right arm. It was probably the best thing about this past year. I had blood draws every day through my PICC, sometimes twice a day. All my IV fluids, chemo, and blood transfusions went through that double lumen. Once the PICC line was established I never had another stick. I loved my PICC line.

MunoRN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 10 years experience. 7,771 Posts

:confused: Is it ok to use central/PICC lines to draw routine labs from just to save the patient a stick?

That's a big reason why we put them in, in fact sometimes it's the only reason why we put them in, either they need frequent draws and they are a hard stick or they aren't necessarily a difficult stick but they are likely to need fistula placement at some point.

We don't draw ptt's out of a lumen that has had heparin in it at any time, and you shouldn't trust glucose or potassium levels to be too exact if you've had Dextrose or KCl in the IVF running through that lumen. There is a theory out there that the line will occlude quicker, although with proper technique there's no evidence to support that, and PICC manufacturers recommend that you check for blood return on a regular basis anyway.

Edited by MunoRN


Specializes in NeuroICU/SICU/MICU. 450 Posts

I regularly draw AM labs from PICCs, IJs, subclavians, and Portacaths. Easy for me, easy for the patient (if I'm quiet enough, sometimes they don't even wake up!). I just make sure to flush well before and after, and never draw through the cap. Sometimes we get patients with really narrow gauge PICCs, and those are difficult to draw from (hemolysed a sample once..oops!) but for the most part, IJs and subclavians are easy peasy. Just need the order that it's okay to use :redbeathe I work ICU stepdown/telemetry.


784 Posts

The idea of having a PICC or Portacath in the first place

is because the pt. has NO veins.

Abide by your facilities policies, but yes, USE them!

Withdraw the appropriate blood before taking the sample, and flush well!