This article will discuss how to care for a Jackson-Pratt Drain (JP Drain) as a nurse or nursing student. JP drains are commonly used in the health care setting. Therefore, it is important you know how to properly care for a patient with a Jackson-Pratt drain.
What is a Jackson-Pratt Drain?
A JP drain is a closed system drain that uses bulb suction to prevent wound drainage from collecting around the surgical site. The benefits of a closed system drain are that they decrease the risk for infection and allows you to measure how much drainage the wound is draining. On the other hand, an open drain system (like a Penrose drain), doesn’t allow you to measure drainage and there is a high risk for infection.
In this article, I am going to discuss the following about a JP Drain:
- What is a Jackson-Pratt Drain?
- How to care for a JP Drain as a Nurse
- How to Empty a JP Drain
- How to Milk a JP Drain
- Documenting about a JP Drain
- Potentials Complications with a JP Drain
Video on How to Care for a JP Drain
This video discusses in depth on how to care for a JP drain as a nurse. Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel!
How to care for a JP Drain as a Nurse
As a nurse taking care of a Jackson-Pratt drain you will want to do the following:
- Empty it!
- Milk it!
- Keep it secured!
- Assess it regularly!
*Note: Most hospitals have specific protocols on how you are to care for a JP drain. Therefore, follow these protocols and always refer to these protocols before providing any care to a JP drain.
Emptying it! A general rule-of-thumb is to empty the JP drain when it is halfway full. This usually amounts to 1-2 times per day.
Steps on how to do empty a JP Drain
- Unplug cap
- Turn bulb upside down and squeeze contents into a measuring cup.
- Clean plug off with alcohol (decrease chances of infection)
- Compress the bulb
- Re-cap the bulb (make sure the bulb stays compressed)
- Document how much drainage you emptied….very important! *This is so important because surgeons will order for a JP drain to be discontinued when the site is draining less than 30 cc per 24 hours.
What type of drainage should you expect with a JP drain?
At first, a new JP drain will drain bloody drainage. This drainage is called serosanguineous fluid (which is blood and serous fluid mixed together). Then as the wound heals, the drainage will go from light pink to light yellow to clear and the amount of drainage will taper off. It is important to note for signs of infection, which would be drainage that is cloudy yellow or tan or green with a foul smelling odor.
How to Milk a JP Drain
Milking it! The purpose of milking a JP drain is to prevent clot formation in the tubing. If a clot forms in the tubing you may notice dark, stringy debris in the tubing, and the bulb suction will not work. Again, always refer to your hospital protocol for how frequent you should milk a JP drain. Generally, this is performed and documented every four hours.
Steps on How to Milk a JP Drain:
- Use thumb and index finger of one hand to secure the tubing close to the insertion site.
- Use the other thumb and index finger to strip down the tubing 3 to 4 times to move any drainage or debris into the bulb.
Secure it! Keep the drain secure and lowered at the insertion site so it will drain proper. Many facilities have secure devices (like how you would secure a Foley catheter and some drains have a tab where you can safety pin it to a patient’s garment).
Assess it regularly! Always get in a habit of regularly assessing the skin at the drain insertion site and keep the dressing around insertion site dry and clean (change daily…clean with warm soap and water).
Sign of infection include:
How to document a JP Drain?
Use a flowsheet to keep track of:
- JP drainage (amount and appearance)
- If you emptied the drain
- When you performed a dressing change
- If you milked the drain
- Noted the drain was secured
Potential complications from a JP Drain
Clot formation! Signs include: no drainage, abrupt decrease in drainage, appearance of dark stringy debris in tubing, drainage around the insertion site
Catheter falls out!: stitches come loose…notify doctor and place bandage over site until given further orders
Bulb won’t compress!: clots or the catheter has become dislodged…notify md.
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