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Randomised controlled trial
Flushing of intravenous locks in neonates: no evidence that heparin improves patency compared with saline
  1. Sandra Bellini
  1. School of Nursing, University Of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, USA
  1. Correspondence to Sandra Bellini
    School of Nursing, University Of Connecticut, 231 Glenbrook Rd., Storrs, CT 06269, USA; sandra.bellini{at}

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Implications for practice and research

  • Nurses working in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) need to be mindful of the conflicting evidence supporting the use of heparin for maintenance of intravenous locks.

  • This study highlights the unsubstantiated and potentially dangerous routine practice of heparin administration for maintenance of intravenous locks in neonates.

  • Animal studies focusing on the use of heparin for maintenance of small-bore, low-flow central line catheters should be conducted to establish feasibility for subsequent neonatal studies.


The use of intravenous locks in neonates requiring stays in the NICU is widespread worldwide. These intravenous locks are used for administration of intermittent medications as well as administration of …

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  • Competing interests None.