Find out what to expect from your OPAT appointment.

Before your appointment

Patients are usually seen within a week of referral from clinicians or GPs. You are welcome to bring a relative, close friend or carer with you to your consultation. You are also welcome to ask for a chaperone and we will endeavour to provide one for you.

Please bring a list of any medications you are taking as well as a list of vaccinations you’ve received.

During your appointment

Please note that we are a teaching hospital, so medical students may be present for some consultations. If you do not wish to have them in the room please let the nurse or doctor know and the students will be asked to step outside.

You will be referred to the service by the medical team caring for you in hospital or by your GP. A member of the OPAT team will then visit you on the ward or contact you at home to discuss the start date for your intravenous therapy. We will explain the nature of your infection, the possible causes and the treatment plan.

We will also discuss how your drugs will be administered, any likely side effects and how you can contact us for support, advice or if you have any problems. You can ask us questions at any stage.

When attending the OPAT appointment, the nurse may sometimes need to change the dressings near the intravenous site or take a blood sample from you. We will also discuss your general wellbeing and the progress of your treatment, and may refer you for review to one of the medical teams.

At each visit you will be given medicines for the following week’s treatment or until your next appointment.

After your appointment

Your length of treatment will determine how your antibiotics are delivered. If your treatment is likely to be short (up to 10 days), you will be discharged home with a cannula – a plastic tube that goes through your skin and into a vein to allow the administration of your medicines directly into your blood stream. You will have a waterproof dressing over the cannula to keep it clean and dry.

For medium- and long-term IV therapy (over two weeks) you will require a PICC line (a peripherally inserted central catheter) to be fitted. This is inserted into the veins of the arm near the bend of the elbow or above the elbow. It then slides into the vein until the tip sits in a large vein known as the superior vena cava, just above the heart.

You will be given instructions and a written booklet on how to look after the line once you are home.

Depending on your medical history and symptoms, you may be informed about the results earlier than the follow-up appointment if the results are not within the normal range.