Peripherally inserted central catheters (PICC) are soft, flexible tubes that allow the administration of important drugs and medications into the bloodstream for long-term care. Known as PICCs, a PICC line nurse is a specially-certified and accredited registered nurse who is allowed to insert these tubes into patients. It is an intricate and involved process that may involve using ultrasound and other radiological imaging to ensure that the catheter line is inserted properly and safely delivering medicine to the patient.
The key element of PICC lines is that they are typically inserted in the patient's body through the extremities and run through to the major circulatory systems in the torso. This helps to prevent complications like infections from the catheter's entry, but also requires detailed and skillful maneuvering to ensure safe placement. As such, PICC line nurses need specialized training above and beyond the already-rigorous study required to be a registered nurse. Accreditation normally requires demonstrated ability to utilize a variety of imaging and radiological feedback to ensure the catheter line does minimal tissue damage.
Because PICC lines are typically indicated for long-term patient care (such as the administration of chemotherapy drugs in oncology), a certified nurse in this field also performs regular inspections of the catheter line itself, both visually and through imaging and may identify and treat any complications, such as blood clots or line blockages, that may cause serious side effects for the patient.
A PICC line nurse must first be a fully-certified registered nurse, which normally requires four years of college and then residency or internship. PICC study is necessary after this certification, and requires separate accreditation in order to perform these procedures in a hospital or clinical environment. It may also require continuing education to maintain certification. Most PICC line nurses work in clinics or hospitals during day or evening shifts.
PICC Line Nurse Tasks
Discuss with patients the risks and purpose of PICC line placement, as well as homecare.
Perform IV insertions and maintain catheters.
Insert central lines, evaluate placement, and monitor vascular access device (VAD) sites on a daily basis.
Educate nursing staff on PICC line placement.