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Saline Lock - Heparin Lock - IV

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Updated July 01, 2014

A mother is waiting for cesarean section at hospital.
Ciseren Korkut/E+/Getty Images
Definition: The saline or heparin lock is a type of vein access that is used for many low risk mothers in labor at a hospital. It allows immediate access to the vein in the event of a complication, to delivery IV pain medications like Stadol, Demerol, etc., should the mother request epidural anesthesia, require a cesarean section (c-section) or have a postpartum hemorrhage.

This catheter can also be used to deliver other medications like antibiotics for brief periods of time should the mother be group B strep positive or have had her water broken for more than 18 hours.

Some hospitals have a protocol to only use saline in the IV, this keeps the IV flushed and opened. Some hospitals still use heparin, a blood thinner, as they are starting this type of IV access. This is not always the case.

Since the saline lock can be converted to a full scale IV at any point, this is often written into the birth plans of mothers wanting and natural childbirth.

Also Known As: IV, heparin lock
Examples:
I had a Saline Lock placed in my arm during my labor, just in case there was an emergency.

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