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Jennifer Schwartz
Bad taste and gagging after normal saline PICC line flush

 We have a patient that not only tastes a chemical taste when we flush her PICC line with normal saline, but she also has a violent gag response.  She does not seem to be hypersensitive in any other way.  Her response is quick, violent, and fortunately short lived but nonetheless unpleasant.  Has any one ever seen this type of reaction and/ or figured out a way to make this necessary action more tolerable? 

An altered taste, known as

An altered taste, known as dysguesia, has been frequently reported with catheter flush and lock solutions. It has been reported with all brands of prefilled syringes and also with solution drawn from other containers. There is nothing published as to the exact cause of this, however there are numerous diagnoses and other drugs that can also alter taste. This could be an interaction between these other factors and the flushing procedure, although no one has identifed the pathophysiology of this. I recently heard that some onocology nurses in Norway, I think, were going to do some research on this. Lynn

Lynn Hadaway, M.Ed., RN, BC, CRNI

Lynn Hadaway Associates, Inc.

126 Main Street, PO Box 10

Milner, GA 30257


Office Phone 770-358-7861



After reading this I felt that I had to comment. This bad taste does not only happen with flushing of PICC's, but occurs with periphal flushes too! I know from experiance as it happens to me every time I recieve a saline flush. It actually tastes like ethanol, I call it moonshine whiskey :) Luckily it only lasts a minute. The nurses who work in our Oncology Infusion Center found that providing the patient who has this phenomenon with a mint prior to the flush reduces the intensity of the bad taste. Hope this helps!

                                                                                Cherylanne Perry RN,CRNI

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