A patient with an epidural catheter receives an opioid as needed for pain. After inspecting the insertion site but before administering the opioid, which of the following should the nurse do first?


• Before administering a medication via epidural catheter, the nurse should aspirate. Aspiration of clear fluid under 1 ml confirms correct epidural catheter placement.
• NOTE: Aspiration of bloody fluid or clear fluid greater than 1 ml indicates the catheter may be outside the epidural space. If this happens, the nurse should notify the physician immediately.

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