Intravenous (IV) antibiotics: Taking care of your IV catheter

Once you are able to have home treatment with intravenous (IV) antibiotics, a home health nurse will teach you how to give the medicine. This will require proper care of your IV tube (catheter).

Home antibiotic treatment is usually given through a long-term IV catheter placed in your arm (called a peripherally inserted central catheter, or PICC line). The catheter is inserted using a fluoroscope to help guide its placement. These special catheters can be used for several months, if needed, so they are inserted only once.

You must give special attention to keeping the catheter in place. The home health nurse will give you tips for preventing the catheter from becoming clogged or infected and teach you how to protect it during a shower or any activity where it may get bumped or dislodged. The nurse will also give you instructions on what to do if your catheter falls or is pulled out.

Your home health nurse will also teach you how to change the dressing on your IV catheter. The dressing will need to be changed periodically, depending on the type of IV catheter you have in place.

Receiving your IV antibiotics at home is less expensive and more convenient. Once you feel better, you can return to work and other activities with the IV catheter in place.

Last Updated: April 16, 2009

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