Postoperative Instruction Dallas
Drain Care Instructions
You have been discharged from the hospital with a drain (a system of tubing and a collection device) to remove fluid or air from your wound. This drain system will require care at home. The following instructions will help you and/or your caregiver correctly perform drain and suture (incision) line care for wounds.
Required supplies for drain and suture line care
You will need the following supplies to perform drain and suture line care:
- A clean basin, bowl, or cup
- A measuring cup
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Regular saline solution or distilled water
- Cotton-tipped applicator or swabs
- Antibiotic ointment (bacitracin, neomycin, or triple antibiotic ointment)
- A record sheet to record the amount of drainage (see example on back)
These supplies can be purchased at a drug or grocery store.
Drain care is a clean procedure. Supplies do not need to be sterile, but you must wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before performing drain care.
- Perform drainage care twice a day.
–Discard the drainage once in the morning and once in the evening.
–Try to empty the drain at the same time each day.
- Pull the stopper out of the drainage bottle and empty the drainage fluid into the measuring cup.
- Record the amount of drainage fluid on the record sheet.
- Dispose of the drainage fluid in a toilet or rinse it down a sink.
- Reestablish drain suction. (See “Types of Drains” for instructions on re-establishing suction.)
This oval-shaped suction system is about the size and shape of a large lemon. To re-establish suction, squeeze the drain in the palm of your hand with your fingers until the inside walls of the drain touch. While maintaining pressure, replace the plug. Slowly release your grip to re-establish suction.
The drain should remain concave or somewhat flat. It should not be fully inflated. If the drain is not flat, the suction is not working.
Correcting problems with the drain
If the drain tube becomes temporarily obstructed or is not draining properly, you may:
- Bend the tubing over your fingers.
- Gently squeeze the tube between your thumb and index finger, moving your fingers along the tubing toward the suction bottle, to help dislodge the obstruction or blood clot.
Call your physician if any of the following occur:
- The drainage suddenly stops (The drainage should decrease gradually, not abruptly.)
- There’s a sudden change in the color of the drainage.
–The drainage should gradually change from blood to a straw-colored fluid.
–Call if the drainage becomes bloody again or changes to a milky white fluid.
- There’s an increase in redness or swelling around the insertion site of the drain.
- You are unable to re-establish suction in the drainage system.
Directions for suture line care
Suture (incision) line care also is a clean procedure. Supplies do not need to be sterile, but you must wash your hands thoroughly before performing the procedure.
- Suture line care should be done twice a day (morning and evening after emptying the drain).
- In a basin or cup, mix 1 part hydrogen peroxide with 2 parts saline solution or distilled water (For example, mix 1/8 cup of hydrogen peroxide with 1/4 cup of saline solution or distilled water.)
- Moisten the cotton-tipped applicators with the diluted hydrogen peroxide mixture.
- Using the moistened cotton-tipped applicator:
– Gently wipe over the suture line and once down each side.
– Wipe once down the middle of the incision, gently removing drainage and crusting.
– If crusting is difficult to remove, do not remove it.
- After cleaning the suture line, swab a generous amount of antibiotic ointment on a cotton-tipped applicator. Gently and evenly spread the ointment on the suture line.
Signs of infection at the suture line
The following are signs indicating that there may be an infection at or around the suture line. Notify your physician if you experience any of the following:
- An increase in redness, tenderness, or swelling of the suture line.
- Drainage from the suture line. (Occasionally, a small amount of bloody or clear yellow-tinged fluid may drain. Notify your physician if it persists or if it changes in consistency.)
- A marked or sudden increase in pain not relieved by the pain medication.
- White pimples or blisters at or around the incision line.
General signs and symptoms of infection
- A persistent elevation of body temperature greater than 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit. (You should take your temperature daily, at the same time each day.)
- Sweats or chills.
- Skin rash.
- Persistent sore throat, scratchy throat or pain when swallowing.
- Persistent sinus drainage, nasal congestion, headaches, or tenderness along the upper cheekbones.
- Persistent dry or moist cough that lasts more than two days.
- White patches in your mouth or on your tongue.
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
- Trouble urinating: pain or burning, constant urge or frequent urination.
- Bloody, cloudy or foul-smelling urine.