Venous Access Device: What to Expect at Home

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Your Recovery

You have had a procedure to give you an access device. You will now be able to get medicine, blood, nutrients, or other fluids with more comfort. You won't have to be stuck by a needle every time. For some people, blood for lab tests can be drawn from the access device.

You will have an incision. The incision will leave a scar that fades with time. The site may be sore for a day or two. You may need to take 1 or 2 days off from work. You may have this access device for weeks or months.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to feel better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Activity

  • Talk to your doctor about what activities you can do. You may not be able to do sports or exercises that use the upper body, such as tennis or weight lifting.
  • You may not be able to go swimming. Check with your doctor.

Incision care

  • You may have a dressing over the cut (incision) the doctor made. A dressing helps the cut heal and protects it. Your doctor or nurse will tell you how to take care of this.
  • If you have strips of tape on the incision, leave the tape on for a week or until it falls off.
  • Clean the area around the line with soap and water at least once a day.
  • Flush the device if your doctor tells you to do so.

Medicine

  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if and when to start taking those medicines again. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.

Other instructions

  • Avoid clothing that rubs or pulls on any part of the device.
  • To help prevent infection, take a shower instead of a bath.
  • When you shower, cover the area with waterproof material, such as plastic wrap.

Devices with catheters

  • If the catheter (tubing) breaks, follow the instructions your doctor gave you. If you have no instructions, clamp or tie off the catheter. Then, see a doctor as soon as possible.
  • Never touch the open end of the catheter if the cap is off.
  • Never use scissors, knives, pins, or other sharp objects near the catheter or other tubing.
  • If your catheter has a clamp, keep it clamped when you are not using it.
  • Fasten or tape the catheter to your body to prevent pulling or dangling.
  • Avoid bending or crimping your catheter.
  • Always wash your hands before you touch your catheter.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness around the line.
    • Red streaks leading from the area around the line.
    • Pus draining from the area around the line.
    • A fever or chills.
  • You have liquid leaking from around the line.
  • There are cracks or leaks in the tube.
  • You have pain or swelling in your neck or arm.
  • The line becomes clogged.

Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: May 27, 2016