Background: There is insufficient evidence of the effects of intermittent flushing with normal saline versus heparin to prevent occlusion or increased alteplase use in pediatric patients with central venous catheters.
Objectives: The primary objective was to evaluate the effectiveness of a new standard flushing practice in the management of central venous access devices in pediatric patients with cancer. A secondary objective was to assess the cost of heparin flushing supplies to patients and financial impact.
Methods: New flushing guidelines included tunneled lines flushed with saline in the push–pause method twice daily in the inpatient setting. The outpatient setting required saline lock while receiving care and heparin lock on discharge. Alteplase usage was monitored for five months in all pediatric patients with cancer who had tunneled central lines.
Findings: There was no statistically significant difference in alteplase usage rate pre- to postimplementation. A formal flushing guideline was recommended using saline and lower heparin concentrations for tunneled catheters.