An arterial line will usually have a pressurized bag of intravenous solution attached. Whenever clinicians draw blood from the arterial line, or whenever they administer medications through the arterial line, they flush the line afterward with solution from this same pressurized bag to ensure that the blood does not clot in the line or that the medication reaches the patient.
There is also always a risk of inadvertent flow of extra solution through the line from the pressurized bag of solution. If the bag contains a heparin solution, the patient may receive an unintended dose of heparin, which could lead to an adverse drug event. Use normal saline solution bags instead of heparin solutions, as saline is equally good for flushing blood and medications through arterial lines, and it poses minimal risk of causing ADEs.
- Store heparin solution bags in the pharmacy, not on patient care units, so they are available only when specifically ordered and dispensed.
- Use safety devices that prevent the free flow of solution into the arterial line.