Are you having back pain with any of the following?

  • Severe pain, weakness or tingling in your leg(s).
  • Difficulty stopping urination or loss of control of bladder or bowels.
  • Unexplained fever, nausea or vomiting.
  • A history of cancer or unexplained weight loss.

We understand that you are experiencing one or more of the health issues that might be impacting your back pain.

We recommend that you discuss these health issues with your doctor before proceeding with this program.

Once you are cleared by your doctor to do this program, we hope it helps you find relief from your back pain.

IV Antibiotics at Home

Overview

Antibiotics are medicines used to treat bacterial infections. Some serious infections can’t be treated by antibiotics in pill form. Instead, you or your child may need intravenous (IV) antibiotics, delivered through a thin tube into a vein.

IV antibiotics are usually given while you’re in the hospital. Sometimes, you or your child might take them at home or another location away from the hospital. This is called OPAT (outpatient parenteral anti-infective therapy).

OPAT may allow you to go back to work, or your child to attend school.

We’ll talk about treatment together. We’ll also teach you how to:

  • Deliver the antibiotics.
  • Keep the tube clean.

Diagnosis

First, we diagnose your infection. We may use blood tests, X-rays, scans, and other tests to:

  • Identify the germ (usually a bacteria).
  • Locate the site of the infection.
  • Identify any existing complications.

We may perform a procedure to remove an infection. We do this if we think the infection might not respond well to antibiotics.

Once we gather this information:

  • We’ll prescribe the best antibiotics to treat you or your child.
  • We may repeat certain tests to check how well treatment is working and decide when to finish treatment.

Treatment Considerations

Before prescribing OPAT, we consider:

  • Infection type.
  • Options for managing the infection.
  • Your family’s personal situation.
  • Whether OPAT is safe and effective for you or your child.
  • Whether you need hospital care.

OPAT is used to treat many types of infections, such as in the heart valve, liver, and bone.

Before prescribing OPAT, we must first:

  • Review your current health and medical history.
  • Diagnose the infection.
  • Check to make sure you’re responding well to treatment.

We must confirm that:

  • The infection or treatment is unlikely to cause serious complications at home.
  • The IV antibiotics can be given safely at home.
  • An IV tube can be successfully placed.

We’ll also make sure that you know how to properly deliver the IV antibiotics.

Remember that we’re available to you for teaching, resources, and follow-up care.

IV Antibiotics

OPAT IV antibiotics are safe, effective, and easy to use at home.

To deliver the antibiotics, we often use a PICC line (peripherally inserted central catheter).

  • A small tube is placed in a vein in the arm.
  • The tube stays in place until you or your child complete treatment.

Only a few pharmacies can provide the medicine and supplies needed for this treatment. Medicine and supplies can be delivered to your home or to a nearby medical clinic.

IV antibiotics are usually given 1 or 2 times a day.

If you need 4 or more daily doses, we may prescribe a small battery-operated portable IV pump. This pump can hold a 24-hour supply of medicine.

IV Care at Home

Before you leave the hospital, nurses will train you (and other family members and caregivers, at your request) to:

  • Flush out the catheter.
  • Properly give the antibiotics.
  • Prevent IV line infection.

During this training, be sure you understand:

  • When and how to deliver daily IV antibiotics. We may schedule doses based on your daily activities.
  • How to avoid infection. Wash your hands with soap and warm water or an alcohol-based solution before touching the IV line. Make sure others do the same.
  • How to protect the IV line. Make sure the line stays in place and stays clean.

A nurse will visit you at home each week to:

  • Check the IV site.
  • Apply a new dressing.
  • Take blood tests.
  • Give you home care, as needed.

Complete your treatment as prescribed. We’ll remove the IV line within a few days after treatment stops. Removal is simple and not painful.

Lifestyle Changes

You or your child can return to daily activities when ready.

Follow these care tips until your treatment is completed and the IV line is removed:

  • Avoid activities that involve sweat, dirt, and water.
  • Don’t tug or rub the IV line area.
  • Follow bathing and showering instructions.
  • Don’t put the arm with the PICC line under water, even if it’s wrapped.

When to Call Us

Contact us if you have any questions while receiving IV antibiotic treatment outside the hospital.

Contact us immediately if you or your child have signs of infection. Infection can cause fever and chills. It can also cause changes around the site where the tube is inserted, such as:

  • Red streaks on the skin
  • Swollen, warm skin
  • Pain or tenderness
  • Fluid draining at the tube site

Additional References:

If you have an emergency medical condition, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. An emergency medical condition is any of the following: (1) a medical condition that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that you could reasonably expect the absence of immediate medical attention to result in serious jeopardy to your health or body functions or organs; (2) active labor when there isn't enough time for safe transfer to a Plan hospital (or designated hospital) before delivery, or if transfer poses a threat to your (or your unborn child's) health and safety, or (3) a mental disorder that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity such that either you are an immediate danger to yourself or others, or you are not immediately able to provide for, or use, food, shelter, or clothing, due to the mental disorder.

This information is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of specific medical advice or care you receive from your physician or other health care professional. If you have persistent health problems, or if you have additional questions, please consult with your doctor. If you have questions or need more information about your medication, please speak to your pharmacist. Kaiser Permanente does not endorse the medications or products mentioned. Any trade names listed are for easy identification only.