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Saline Lock

Going Home with a Normal Saline Lock: After Your Visit

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  • A saline lock is a type of intravenous (IV) that can be used if you are able to go home between receiving your IV medicine.
  • The advantage is that you don’t have to have the tubing, IV bag, and pole with you between your IV therapy times.
  • The IV is flushed with saline water so that the line doesn’t clot. Saline water is water with the same amount of salt that your body has.
  • It’s called a “saline lock” because a small cap is placed at the end of the catheter to keep the saline water in the catheter.
  • You’ll have a saline lock for as long as need your medicine by IV. The doctor will tell you how long this will be.

Where do I go for my IV medicine?

  • You’ll be told to go to the same Emergency Department or to an outpatient IV Clinic.
  • You’ll be told how often to come to the Emergency Department or outpatient IV clinic (for example, every 8, 12, or 24 hours).
  • Bring your Alberta Personal Health Card to every visit.

What will happen at each visit?

  • A doctor will see you at every visit. If you have a wound, your dressing or splint may be taken off so that the nurse or doctor can see how your wound is healing.
  • A nurse will check your IV site each time your IV medicine is given.

How do I care for the IV at home?

  • Keep the IV site clean and dry.
  • Use rubber gloves or put a plastic bag around the site when showering, washing dishes, etc.
  • A small of blood or an air bubble in the tubing is okay and won’t hurt you.
  • If the IV catheter comes out part way, don’t use it.
  • If the IV catheter comes out all the way, put constant pressure over the site for 2 minutes to stop bleeding (no peeking).
    • If you’re giving the next dose of medicine at home, go to the Emergency Department to have the IV restarted before your dose is due.
    • If you go to the Emergency Department or outpatient IV clinic for the medicine, be there at least 1 hour before your medicine is due to give time for the IV to be restarted.

When should I get help?

Call 911 if you think you’re having a serious reaction to the medicine:

  • you feel like your tongue or throat is swelling
  • you‘re having trouble breathing

Go to the Emergency Department or call the clinic if:

  • the IV site is red, hot to touch, or hurts
  • you have a reaction to the medicine (rash, hives, or itchiness)

For 24/7 nurse advice and general health information call Health Link at 811.

Current as of: October 1, 2016

Author: Health Link Alberta, Alberta Health Services