Specially Credentialed PICC Nurses Serve Patients With Certain IV Therapy Needs
Michele Roberts RN
PICC Nurse, St. Joseph’s/Candler
Smart Living: Patients receiving some kind of intravenous, or IV, therapy is a common occurrence in hospitals, but for some patients a special kind of IV access is necessary. How are these patients treated at St. Joseph’s/Candler?
Michele Roberts: We have a team of specially trained nurses at both of our campuses who place PICC lines. PICC stands for peripherally inserted central catheter. The PICC is a long, thin catheter that is inserted into a peripheral vein in the upper part of the arm and then threaded into a very large vein in the patient’s chest. A portable ultrasound machine assists us in locating the vein. While it can be done at a patient’s bedside, it is still a complicated, sterile procedure, and can only be performed by nurses who are specially trained. However, because we use a local anesthetic, it is a relatively painless procedure. All of the nurses on our PICC team are Nationally Board-certified in Vascular Access.
SL: What kind of patients need PICC lines?
MR: PICC lines are ordered by the physician for patients who need total parenteral nutrition, or TPN. This is for patients whose gastrointestinal tract is not functioning or those whose conditions require bowel rest. PICC lines are also used by patients receiving chemotherapy or long-term antibiotic therapy.
Also, if the bedside nurses are having difficulty accessing a patient’s vein for a regular IV, that patient may need to have a PICC line inserted instead. This can provide the patient with a more comfortable experience because they can then have their blood drawn from this catheter and receive their IV medication without a need to be stuck with a needle again for the rest of their hospital stay.
SL: That must come as a relief to patients.
MR: Yes, it definitely reduces the patient’s anxiety level. PICC lines also help nurses, allowing them to spend more time on other aspects of the patient’s care. Physicians also appreciate the PICC lines because of their stability. There is no interruption of therapy, which can be crucial for patients who are receiving strong antibiotics or multiple IV medications and fluids. And unlike the regular short IV catheters, a PICC line can stay in place for many weeks or even months if needed.
Both patients and physicians express great satisfaction with the service our team offers. In fact, patients who have been treated at St. Joseph’s/Candler before and received PICC lines will often ask to receive them again when they return. They want to be repeat customers.