Process for Routine Assessment

Does your institution have a process for routine assessment of catheter patency?

Employ best practice standards and routine patency evaluation to optimize outcomes and minimize complications

The INS Infusion Therapy Standards of Practice recommend 1:

  • CVADs should be regularly assessed for patency and proper function as defined by the ability to flush the catheter without resistance and the ability to yield a blood return
  • CVAD occlusions should not be left untreated because another lumen is patent
Prior to the administration of any medications or solutions, a nurse should always 1:
  • FLUSH to determine resistance, flushing with an adequate volume of saline or appropriate solution
  • ASPIRATE for a positive blood return that is the color and consistency of whole blood
  • Check for other indications of an occlusion
  • Palpate the insertion site to determine tenderness
  • Assess the patient for any pain or discomfort
Depending on the status of the catheter, patent or not patent, select a tab to view the next step




DOCUMENT whether patency was confirmed prior to administration of medications and solutions

Institutions should monitor competency in catheter care upon hiring of staff and periodically thereafter. 1

In addition, use the following recommended algorithm for assessing and treating occluded catheters 4:

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The INS Infusion Therapy Standards of Practice state that catheter salvage is preferred over catheter removal for management of central venous access device (CVAD) occlusions. 1