What is a Hep Lock?

The medication is administered through the hepatic lock, which keeps the veins accessible to the healthcare professional.

A liver block is a small tube that a medical professional inserts into a patient’s arm or elsewhere on the body. The tube has a catheter at one end. The healthcare professional efficiently administers medication or fluids through the catheter lock, which works by keeping a vein accessible.

The device is referred to as a hep block because a drug called heparin or a similar blood thinner is injected to wash the site and keep the vein open, stopping a clot from forming. When medication is not being administered, the tube should be flushed with heparin and saline regularly to keep the site viable. With this little maintenance, the site remains viable for days longer than a traditional IV. Although saline locks are often used to secure administration sites, many medical professionals also refer to them as liver locks because they accomplish the same goal.

A liver block can be used with pregnant women to give medication more quickly.

In many cases, this tube is a viable and preferred alternative to an intravenous (IV) line. In patients who require multiple, but not continuous, doses of medication, for example, it allows for medication administration without the hassle of a complicated IV. Medication can be administered via a block injection directly with a syringe or by attaching the IV to the catheter.

A liver block is usually inserted into the arm of the patient’s body.

When quick access to veins is imperative, as in the case of pregnant women or critically ill patients, liver blockage makes administering emergency medication easier and faster. This reduces the risk of the patient not getting the lifesaving drug quickly enough. Medical professionals often use this procedure and device for pregnant women in order to be able to quickly administer saddle block or epidural medication as well as administer medication needed due to a hemorrhage or emergency cesarean section.

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A liver block is a good alternative to an IV line for patients receiving multiple medications.

Patients and nurses often praise the liver block because it doesn’t need to be moved as often as an IV. This means fewer needle sticks and therefore less pain for patients. Nurses can administer medication without disturbing sleeping patients. There is also no line connected when medication is not flowing, so the location allows for greater patient mobility.

Medical professionals often use a liver block for pregnant women.

Experts caution that liver locks should not be used in patients with thrombocytopenia or with active, uncontrollable bleeding unless it is due to disseminated intravascular coagulation. For patients on full-dose heparin, appropriate and periodic testing should be performed to assess clotting time and other important statistics related to the use of blood-thinning medications. Otherwise, a heparin block is usually a viable and cost-effective alternative to a traditional IV.

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