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Vascular access devices

Vascular access devices

Patients with a vascular access device, their carers and healthcare workers need to follow strict guidelines to prevent infection.

Before you leave hospital, you and your carers should be taught techniques to help prevent infection and manage your vascular access device safely. You should receive further training and support for as long as you need it.

Hands must be cleaned thoroughly (see 'Keeping hands clean') before touching a vascular access device, and procedures must be carried out using an aseptic technique.

The site where the vascular access device enters the body needs careful attention to avoid infection. Your healthcare worker should use special antiseptic solution, swabs and/or wipes for cleaning your skin before inserting a peripheral vascular access device. Skin should also be cleaned whenever dressings are changed for all vascular access devices.

You should use dressings provided by your healthcare worker. The type used will depend on whether or not the site where the vascular access device enters your body is bleeding or oozing, or you are sweating a lot. Your healthcare worker will talk with you about how often the dressing should be changed. If you have a type of vascular access device called a peripheral cannula, the dressing won't usually be changed at all unless it is damaged.

Healthcare workers should provide liquids for flushing out and cleaning vascular access devices. Your healthcare worker will also advise you about how often the administration set for your vascular access device should be changed.

If you are receiving drugs through your vascular access device, the vial containing the drug should be thrown away after a single dose has been taken from it. Your healthcare worker will advise you about the special rules for this.

  • Information Standard