IV Catheter Site Care

An IV catheter may exit the body from your chest or your arm. Both sites are cleaned and dressed in the same way. Clean the site as directed and follow the steps on this sheet.

Image of IV catheter

Image of IV catheter

Image of IV catheter

Step 1. Remove the old dressing

  • Wash your hands well. Put on clean, sterile gloves if you use them.

  • Peel the edges of the old dressing away from the skin. Hold the catheter and pull the dressing upward.

  • Check the exit site. Call the nurse if you have any of the problems listed on the bottom of this sheet.

Step 2. Clean the site

  • If you wore gloves at step 1, remove them and throw them away. Wash your hands again. Put on a new pair of sterile gloves.

  • Clean around the exit site by swabbing in circles. Start at the area closest to the site and go outward. Repeat 3 times. Use alcohol and antiseptic as directed. Let the site air dry after each swabbing.

  • Clean the catheter tube with alcohol. Gently wipe from the exit site down the tube.

Step 3. Place a new dressing

  • Place a new dressing over the exit site. Seal all the edges of the dressing. On a chest site, try not to tape over a nipple.

  • Roll up the catheter tube. Tape it against your skin. Don't tape on top of the dressing.

When to call the healthcare provider

Call your nurse right away if you have any of the following:

  • Redness near the exit site or along the catheter line

  • Swelling in the arm, neck, or chest

  • Fever

  • Chills

  • Drainage at the exit site

  • The catheter slips or comes out

  • Temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your provider

  • Your catheter does not flush or flow correctly