Is it safe to immerse with a hickman line?
17 February, 2008
I have a medical condition for which I need a medication that will be delivered through a hickman line. The hickman will be in place permanently, not for a specified time period.
I have already received a halachic ruling that I will be able to immerse in the mikve with it, and it can be covered by a waterproof plaster at least for the initial period when the wound is still healing.
What concerns me more is the risk of infection when immersing in the mikve. I understand from my doctor that one has to be very careful to keep the line sterile, and that an infection can be very dangerous, even G-d forbid fatal. The doctors and nurses are not being very helpful about my question regarding immersion in a mikve, and I have received conflicting answers about whether it could cause a possible infection or not. I was wondering if you have any experience with women immersing in the mikve with a hickman line in place and whether it is safe or not.
The infection control issues should be discussed with the mikveh attendant in advance. Arrangements can be made to reduce the risk of infection to less than that of a home bath tub.
First contact the attendant to find out the method that is used to disinfect the mikveh. It they use chlorine or another chemical, ask if you could be the first to immerse after they change the water and add the disinfectant. If they use a filtration system, it is probably still best for you to be the first to immerse after the water change.
Assuming arrangements as above, most infection control issues are in the preparation rooms used by many women rather than in the well-maintained mikveh water. We suggest you prepare at home, bringing a comb from home to comb through your hair prior to immersion, inspecting yourself visually in the preparation room, and dunking one extra time in the mikveh water prior to the "official" immersion in order to wet your hair and body.
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