In my last column, I reviewed the different types of IV access
available when you’re a hard stick for traditional IVs. I’ve had them all and will share my experiences about what to expect, along with some care tips.
PICC lines and midlines
Peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) lines
are great for long-term medications that likely will be ended within a few months. I’ve actually had 19 PICC lines! Mine were placed for a few reasons including long-term IV antibiotics, IV steroids, and for my longer hospital stays because of how hard an IV stick I am.
When any type of specialized line is placed, it needs to be done in a sterile environment. If receiving one as an inpatient, typically a hospital room will suffice. As an outpatient, they typically can be placed at a day surgery center or in interventional radiology. I suggest wearing loose, comfortable clothes.
First, a patient lies down on a table and the nurse technician brings a machine that scans for the most promising vein for a PICC line to enter. The technician marks the spot, then measures the distance from the dot to the shoulder, then to the neck and down to the heart. Technicians need this measurement to cut the PICC line to length. Next, the technician will clean the patient's arm with iodine to disinfect the area. A