IV Care: Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN) Therapy

When you use total parenteral nutrition (TPN), fluids feed your body without passing through your stomach. TPN is given by IV with a pump.

Hands covered with soap suds.

Know your TPN fluids

  • Read the medicine sheet that comes with the TPN. Be aware of any warnings and side effects.

  • Check the label on the TPN bag before starting an IV. Make sure the patient name, TPN fluids, and dose are correct.

  • Do not use TPN with an expired date.

  • Do not use TPN if the bag is leaking.

  • Do not use TPN if it looks lumpy or oily.

  • Do not use TPN if anything is floating in it.

Handle supplies as directed

  • Store TPN in the refrigerator. If it’s not kept cold, TPN lasts only 24 hours. Do not freeze.

  • Before using TPN, let it get close to room temperature. Do not heat.

  • If vitamins need to be added to the TPN, do so as directed.

  • Put all used needles and syringes in a special container (sharps container).

  • When the IV is done, put the used supplies in a plastic bag. Seal the bag and throw it in the trash.

Track your health

  • Weigh yourself daily. If you lose or gain weight, your TPN dose may need adjusting.

  • Keep track of your urine output as directed. Tell the nurse if the amount increases or decreases a lot.

  • Check your blood sugar if directed. A nurse may take a blood sample from you each week. This is to make sure your TPN dose is right for you.

Know these IV basics

  • Keep the dressing over the catheter exit site clean and dry. Change the dressing if it comes loose or gets soiled or wet.

  • Flush the catheter with saline or heparin as directed.

  • Wipe all injection sites with alcohol.

  • Be sure all IV supplies are in sealed packets. If sterile packets are open, throw away those supplies.

  • Do not stop the pump during an IV infusion unless a nurse tells you to.

When to seek medical care

Contact your nurse right away if you have any of the following:

  • Trouble breathing (call 911)

  • Redness near the catheter exit site or at any spot along the catheter line

  • Fever or chills

  • Swelling in the arm, neck, or chest

  • Drainage at the exit site

  • The catheter slips or comes out

  • The TPN doesn’t flow well through the tubing

  • The alarm on the pump comes on


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