Category:What Kind of Complications Can Occur?

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PICC lines are a very safe form of IV through which you can receive fluid and medications. Any time a foreign body is inserted into your body and the skin surface is broken, complications can occur. These complications can include:

  • Swelling of the arm
  • Signs of infection (soreness, redness, pain, fever, drainage or odor)
  • Leaking around the catheter site or the catheter itself
  • The catheter will not work properly or will not flush
  • Excess catheter is outside the body (the catheter has moved, or migrated)
  • Signs of irritation where the catheter exits the arm (redness, soreness, pain, feeling of hardness as you press on the skin directly above the exit site)
  • Injection cap becomes disconnected or contaminated

If any of these occur and you are hospitalized, your nurse will notify the Vascular Access Team (PICC RN). 

If these problems occur at home, you would contact the Outpatient Infusion Center, or the Home Health agency following your care.  If you experience an emergency and are having severe pain or swelling from the catheter site, notify your physician, the agency following you, and go the Emergency Department immediately.

If the catheter tears or breaks, fold the remaining end of the catheter in half, cover with gauze and secure tightly with a rubber band.  Go immediately to the Emergency Department.

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