Ethanol Lock

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Ethanol Lock Therapy is a solution that can be placed in your child’s central line catheter to prevent or treat a line infection. It sits in the catheter while your child is not receiving other IV medications or infusions. This is to kill bacteria that might get in the catheter.

Medicine safety

  • Do not use or store this medicine around heat or flame. It can catch fire easily.
  • If your child is allergic to ethanol, he or she should not take this medicine.
  • Your child should not smoke.
  • Your child should not drink alcohol. Taking this medicine with alcohol can be dangerous. Some cold medicines, cough syrups and mouthwashes contain alcohol, but these do not have enough alcohol in them to be a problem while using ethanol locks. Ask your health care practitioner before giving your child these medicines.
  • The Central Ohio Poison Center: 1-800-222-1222 (TTY 614-228-2272)

They will tell you what to do:

  • if your child takes too much of this medicine
  • if someone else takes this medicine
  • Store all medicine out of the reach of children.

How to use this medicine


  • Ethanol can only be given once each day.
  • Read the label carefully. Make sure you are giving your child the right dose.
  • Wash and dry your hands before and after using the medicine.


  1. Do not recap the syringe. Do not bend or break it.
  2. Put the used syringe into a puncture-resistant container with a cover. You can use a used bleach bottle, a coffee can, or a "sharps" container.
  3. When the container is two-thirds full, dispose of the container as instructed by the homecare company


Use syringes one time only. Keep syringes and supplies out of the reach of children and others who might mis-use them.

Giving ethanol lock therapy

  1. After finishing other IV medications/infusions, flush your child’s line with 5 to 10 mL     (milliliters) of normal saline.
  2. Inject ordered dose of ethanol lock into your child’s central line.
  3. Allow the ethanol lock to dwell in your child’s line for a minimum of 2 hours. The maximum time is 24 hours.
  4. Before giving other IV medications or infusions, flush with 5 to 10mL of normal saline.
  5. Administer other IV medications/infusions.
  6. Only one dose of ethanol may be placed in the catheter per day.

Possible side effects

  • tiredness
  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • light-headedness
  • Tell your child’s doctor right away if your child feels any burning, stinging, or pain while this medicine is being given.
  • Tell your child's doctor and pharmacist if your child has a strange or allergic reaction to any medicine.

What to do about side effects

If your child becomes drowsy or sleepy, do not allow him or her to:

  • ride a bike or operate machinery (such as a lawnmower or car)
  • take part in any activities in which the child must stay alert and awake

When to call for emergency help

Call for emergency help if your child has any of these signs of an allergic reaction:

  • swelling of the tongue
  • swelling of hands, feet, or ankles
  • you are unable to wake your child
  • your child is unable to stay awake
  • trouble breathing

When to call the doctor

Call your child's doctor if:

  • you see a change in your child’s behavior or activity level
  • your child is having any side effects that continue or are very bothersome
  • you are unable to flush the central line
  • your child feels any burning, stinging, or pain while it is being given.

Other information

  • Check with your child’s doctor or pharmacist before giving over-the-counter medicines.
  • Bring all your child's medicines when he or she sees a doctor, goes to an emergency room, or is admitted to the hospital. Bring medicines in their original bottles.
  • Learn the name, spelling, and dose of this medicine. Also, teach your child if he or she is old enough.

Ask your child’s nurse for these Helping Hands if they are needed for your child:

  • HH-I-4 Allergy to Medicines
  • HH-II-36 IV-Broviac Catheter
  • HH-II-44 Subcutaneous Infusion Port (SIP)
  • HH-II-102 IV Medicine at Home - Balloon Infusion Device
  • HH-II-103 IV Medicine at Home - IV Push Method
  • HH-II-129 IV Broviac Catheter Care at Home
  • HH-II-130 Subcutaneous Infusion Port Care at Home
  • HH-II-134 IV - PICC Catheter Care at Home
  • HH-II-137 IV - PICC Catheter
  • HH-V-157 Medicine Safety

If you have any questions, be sure to ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.

Patient identification card

  • The cards below are patient identification cards.
  • A card should be kept with your child at all times.
  • In an emergency, the doctor will need to know that your child takes this medicine.
  • Tell all doctors or dentists treating your child that he or she uses ethanol lock therapy.
  • Tell your child's teacher, school nurse, coach, babysitter, and others that your child 
    is taking this medicine and what side effects to watch for.
  • The card below should be cut out and carried by the patient or guardian at all times.
  • It must be presented to anyone who might use the central vascular access device.
  • Extra cards are printed below for caregivers.

HH-V-269 Ethanol Lock (PDF)

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