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Caring for your child’s cannula at home

Summary

This resource gives general information regarding the care of your child’s cannula. You must always discuss any individual concerns with your OPAT nurse.
Do not rely on this resource alone for information about your child’s treatment.

What is a cannula?

A cannula is a short flexible tube which is threaded into a vein. Cannulas can be used to give intravenous (IV) antibiotics at home for 2 or 3 days and sometimes longer. Pain relief can be given for insertion of the cannula in the form of a cream applied to the skin where the cannula is to be inserted.

Looking after the cannula at home

It is very important that the cannula and dressings stay clean and dry to help prevent infection. Bathe your child in a shallow bath and cover the dressing and bandage to protect from splashes. You may like to ‘top and tail’ with your child in the bath to help prevent them from splashing too much. If the dressing does become wet, dry it with a clean towel. Please contact the outpatient parenteral antibiotic therapy (OPAT) nurse as a new dressing will need to be applied. Do not take your child swimming until it has been removed by your child’s nurse.

It is best if the cannula can remain covered, clothes with long sleeves are good for this and can help prevent the cannula getting caught or pulled.

If the cannula looks like it has come out or has moved let the OPAT team or community nurse know. This may mean you need to come back into hospital if your child is having home antibiotics. The nurses will check if the cannula can still be used or whether it needs replacing. The decision to replace will be made with your medical or surgical team.

Signs of infection

The nurse will look at your child’s cannula before each dose. In between this you should also look for possible signs of infection. These include:

  • high temperature
  • pain, heat or redness around the entry point of the line

What happens if the cannula comes out at home?

If the cannula comes out at home, apply pressure to the site for up to a minute to stop any bleeding then apply a plaster.

If the cannula comes out at night you can wait till the morning to inform the OPAT team. The OPAT team will arrange for you to come into the hospital for another cannula to be inserted or make a decision about whether your child can go onto oral antibiotics. This will be discussed with your own medical or surgical team.

Can my child attend school or nursery?

If your child is feeling well enough, they should be able to go back to school or nursery.

Check with your school or nursery first, some may want to know about caring for the line. We are happy to talk to the school with your permission. Your child can take part in most normal activities at school or nursery, but they should avoid vigorous exercise and contact sports.

Summary

This resource gives general information regarding the care of your child’s cannula. You must always discuss any individual concerns with your OPAT nurse.
Do not rely on this resource alone for information about your child’s treatment.

Contact us

OPAT Nurses work between 10am and 8pm, 7 days a week and can be contacted on 0114 305 3592

If you need to contact someone outside of these hours please contact the hospital switchboard on 0114 271 7000 and ask for the Ward your child was discharged from or the medical registrar on call.

For emergencies call 111 or 999.

OPAT is the main hospital site on D Floor, on Ward 8, via the purple lifts.

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Disclaimer

Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: OPT2

Resource Type: Article

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Summary

This resource gives general information regarding the care of your child’s cannula. You must always discuss any individual concerns with your OPAT nurse.
Do not rely on this resource alone for information about your child’s treatment.

NHS

Western Bank
Sheffield
S10 2TH

United Kingdom

Switchboard: 0114 271 7000

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