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How to Flush a Peripheral IV (PIV)

What is a peripheral IV?

A peripheral intravenous line or catheter is a small, short tube placed into a vein through the skin using a needle. A peripheral IV is a way to take blood samples or give some medicines or fluids into a vein. Most of the time it is placed in the:

  • Hand
  • Arm
  • Foot
  • Scalp (in babies)

You might hear a peripheral IV called a PIV, peripheral intravenous line, or peripheral intravenous catheter.

Find more information on how a peripheral IV is placed.

Peripheral IV in child's arm

A peripheral IV or PIV is a way of giving medicine or fluid into a vein.

A PIV usually has a clear bandage over it where it goes into the skin. This keeps air and water from getting in but allows caregivers to see the site when they are giving medicine. At the end of the tube is a plastic clear connector. It connects to the medicine, fluid, or IV pump. You will also see a clamp on the tube.

If the PIV is in your child’s hand, an arm board may be used to help keep the PIV in the right place. An arm board will limit how much your child can move their hand. Tell your care team if your child has numbness, tingling, or skin color changes in the hand where the PIV or arm board are located.

How to do a saline flush in the peripheral IV

A saline flush helps keeps the peripheral IV from sealing off and not working. Flush the PIV every 8 to 12 hours or as instructed by your care team. You can usually flush it right before bedtime. This means you won’t have to wake your child up during the night.

If you have questions about how or when to flush the IV, talk with your care team.

Do not flush the PIV unless you have been told to do so and have received training.

Supplies needed:

  • 2 Site-Scrubs® or alcohol prep pads
  • 1 syringe of sterile sodium chloride (saline for IV use). Check the label for:
    • 0.9% sodium chloride injection on the syringe
    • 5 milliliters (mLs) of liquid in the syringe
    •  An expiration date on the syringe - if expired, do not use.
  • 1 disinfectant cap

When to call your doctor

Call the clinic or hospital if you notice any of these problems:

  • Trouble flushing the PIV
  • Pain or tenderness around the PIV
  • Fluid leaking around the PIV
  • Swelling or redness around the PIV or above it
  • Loose, wet, or dirty bandage
  • PIV comes out
  • Numbness or tingling in the hand where the PIV is located

If you have any of the problems above while you are flushing the PIV, clamp the IV tubing, take the syringe off, and put a disinfectant cap over the clear connector.

If the PIV comes out, press on the area with sterile gauze until the bleeding stops. Then, put on a self-stick bandage such as a Band-Aid®.

If the bleeding does not stop after 5 to 10 minutes of pressing on the area, contact your clinic right away. After hours or on the weekend, call the hospital and ask for the nursing coordinator or the doctor on call.


  • Follow all steps as instructed to keep the PIV clean and prevent infection.
  • Flush the PIV every 8 to 12 hours or as instructed by your care team.
  • You can usually flush the PIV right before bedtime.
  • If you notice problems with the PIV or your child has numbness, tingling, or redness near the PIV, let the care team know.
  •  Follow the care team’s instructions for when and how to flush your child’s PIV.

Reviewed: August 2022