Heparin Locks, or Hep Locks, are small tubes attached to a catheter, inserted into the arm and held in place with tape in order to administer drugs and fluids without injecting patients multiple times unnecessarily. Emergency situations require an accessible vein fast; the Hep Lock provides that accessibility. Medicine may be injected easily, making life simple for nursing staff and less painful for patients.
Function of a Hep Lock
Heparin Locks (HL) do not contain heparin (anticoagulant) unless used for a heparin flush; however, are used frequently by nurses to keep open a vein for easy access in order to administer drugs, saline, antibiotics or blood without causing unnecessary stress on the patient, while saving time. One of many advantages of using this method is that medication may be given without disturbing the patient while asleep.
Benefits of a Hep Lock
The heplock benefits women in labor in that quick access to a vein allows doctors to administer medication should the woman request an epidural (saddle-block) anesthesia. Other emergencies may be quickly attended to such as cesarean section (c-section), or if suffering hemorrhage post-partum.
Time Frame for Using a Hep Lock
The Hep Lock may be inserted, taped and in use, in as little as three minutes, depending on the patient's type of vein. Some veins "roll" and are difficult to pierce and may take longer. Initial discomfort on insertion of the Hep Lock ultimately saves time, money and other labor-intensive procedures in the long run.
Considerations for Using a Hep Lock
Heparin is an anticoagulant used to prevent blood clots forming in the arteries, lungs or veins. Between uses of the Hep Lock, a nurse will inject heparin into the Hep Lock to be used as a flush to keep the vein from clotting, which would prevent medications from entering the bloodstream.
Significance of the Hep Lock
The drug, heparin, used as a flush between uses in the Hep Lock, is made from pig intestines. Nevertheless, many people in China suffered adverse effects from faux heparin, made instead from animal cartilage gathered in unsanitary conditions, which tested like heparin but had dire reactions and fatalities. Shortness of breath, fainting spells, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, unresponsiveness and low blood pressure stemming from contaminated heparin were experienced.
- Photo Credit V. Ries Copyright 2008
What is a Tetanus Shot?
Tetanus, also called lock jaw, is a serious disease caused by the bacterium Clostridium tetani. (C. tetani) This anaerobic bacterium (it cannot...
Saline Lock Vs. Heparin Lock
Saline lock and heparin lock refer to one method of intravenous medication administration. The purpose of intravenous administration is to induce a...
What Is Unfractionated Heparin?
Heparin is an anticoagulant used for the prevention and treatment of thrombosis, or blot clot formation. Unfractionated heparin (UFH) is a naturally...
Mediport Flush Protocol
Mediports are subcutaneous access ports implanted under the skin. They provide a way for long-term venous access without multiple needle pricks. They...
How to Flush a PICC Line
It's finally time to come home from the hospital after a long stay. But your spouse or your child has come home...
How to Reverse a Heparin Dose
Heparin is a medication used for the treatment of various cardiac conditions, including atrial fibrillation and acute coronary syndrome. If Heparin overdose...