Frequently Asked Questions

Why does it matter what type of vascular access device my patient has?

It is important that the right device is placed in your patient for the IV therapy ordered. Chosing the right device involves looking at the type of drug ordered, the duration of therapy of that drug, the availability of the vessels seen on ultrasound, and the medical/surgical/vascular access history of that patient. Chosing the right device will derease the risk of infection, infiltration and extravasation and prevent a delay in IV therapy.


What is a PICC line?

A PICC line stands for a Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter. A PICC line is defined as a long IV that is inserted with ultrasound guidance in the upper arm and threaded to the superior vena cava, a large vessel by the heart, where the tip of the PICC line ends in your central circulation. The PICC line does not go into your heart or harm it in anyway. You may also have your blood drawn through the PICC line to eliminate further needle pokes during the duration of the infusion therapy.

What is a Midline?

A Midline is placed with ultrasound guidance in the upper arm and threaded so the tip ends prior to the mid axillary branch or if placed in the forearm the tip ends prior to the antecubital or bend of your arm. REMEMBER a Midline cannot be used for all types of IV medications and you will not always be able to draw blood work from a Midline.

What is ECG technology?

ECG technology is on the stylet that in threaded through the PICC line on insertion. As the PICC tip passes into the lower part of the Superior Vena Cava you will see a spike in the p-wave and will reach max P-Wave. As the PICC tip passes past the Cavo-Atrial Junction you will note a deflection prior to the p-wave. The PICC tip is then pulled back until the deflection disappears. The images is printed and placed in the patient’s chart stating PICC tip was confirmed in the SVC by ECG technology.

Is there such a thing as a STAT PICC Line?

…There should never be such a thing as a STAT PICC line…. However, there is an urgency for patient to have secure IV access. As healthcare providers, it is our job to determine the appropriate type of vascular access to initiate the infusion therapy and eliminate a delay. Depending on the medical history and reason for admission, a PICC line may be the best option.


Advocate for yourself, your loved ones, and your patients to make sure the right type of vascular access is used to provide the infusion therapy and eliminate a delay.

What is the difference between a port and a PICC Line?

A port and a PICC line are both types of central lines because the tip of both lines is located in the superior vena cava (SVC). A port is under the skin and you need a needle to poke through the skin the access the port. A benefit to a port is that you can shower when there is not needle in the port and not worry about an infection since it is under the skin but it needs to be placed by a specialized MD. A PICC line will have a catheter lumen (s) outside of the skin like a small IV so you can connect to the needed IV medications. There is a risk of infection when you shower so you must keep this covered and dry at all times. A nurse can place your PICC line at the bedside. You can draw blood from a PICC line or a Port for lab work.

How important is it to have a blood return?

You must have a blood return in any central line to be able to give IV medications or you risk infiltration or extravasation of the medication that can cause harm to the patient. Cathflo/Activase is an approved medication through the FDA to give through the central line to establish a blood return when needed. Check a blood return prior to every infusion. If there is no blood return contact your provider or you will have an increased risk of infection.