Is an Assistant Needed to Drain a PleurX Catheter?

Carefully I opened the package that contained the equipment I needed to drain a PleurX catheter.  A PleurX catheter goes into the pleural cavity and remains there where it can be used intermittently to drain fluid out of the pleural space. I was going to do this in the rather cluttered and small bedroom of my patient’s apartment. My patient was dying of lung cancer after years of heavy smoking. Now he lay in his bed with the ornate mahogany headboard. Oxygen ran through a soft green tubing into his nose. Before I began I left the room to scrub my hands at his bathroom sink. When I returned to his bedside, I picked up the drainage kit that was packaged in a blue wrapper. The inside of the wrapper was sterile and became my sterile field. That means anything that came in touch with it must be sterile. On the field was already gauze for the dressing I would put over the catheter when I finished. There were alcohol wipe that I would use to clean the tip of the catheter. A new cap to cover the tip of the catheter was also part of the kit. I touched nothing with my bare hands.  My patient waited expectantly for the draining to begin. The trouble he was having breathing was caused by the build-up of fluid in his pleural space. Once I was done, his breathing would be slower and easier. I expected that at least 200cc of amber fluid would be drained off today. He held his flannel shirt up so I could remove his old bandage which I did with non-sterile gloves. I threw the bandage and my gloves into a plastic bag I had set out for garbage. I now turned to put on the sterile gloves that lay across the blue sterile field. I gingerly picked up one and using sterile technique I put first one and then the other on. I was ready to begin. Just then a flash of black crossed in front of me and landed in the middle of the blue sterile field! It was Nicky, my patient’s devoted and very fluffy cat who now sat grooming himself  oblivious to the fact that he just contaminated something that I had been so careful about maintaining sterility. But I now had a cat in front of me, one who wasn’t about to move. Of course now I would have to #1 get Nicky out of the room and #2 start all over again. Later when I told my clinical supervisor about my feline helper, she laughed and said “Welcome to Home Care! You just never know who in the household will want to assist you!!”

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2 Comments on “Is an Assistant Needed to Drain a PleurX Catheter?”

  1. Maria Cabrera, RN Says:

    Reviewing my procedure for draining a Pleurx catheter, i came across this posts and oh boy! that was funny. He surely would love to help. I bet the patient would have laughed too.

  2. ”: I am really thankful to this topic because it really gives up to date information *;~

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