Central Line-associated Bloodstream Infections
What are central line-associated bloodstream infections?
A central line is a tube that is placed into a large blood vessel. It is placed in the blood vessel to allow health professionals to draw blood, deliver fluids or administer medications to a patient. They are usually used when a patient requires many blood draws or medications. Central lines are used to avoid sticking a patient with needles multiple times for the same procedure. Germs can sometimes travel down the central line tube and enter the patient's blood, causing what medical experts call a bloodstream infection.
What are we doing to prevent central line-associated bloodstream infections?
To prevent central line-associated bloodstream infections, doctors, nurses and other health care team members :
- Choose blood vessels in parts of the body where the risk for infection of the central line is small.
- Clean their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before performing the procedure to insert the central line tube.
- Wear a mask, cap, sterile gown and sterile gloves when inserting the central line. This keeps germs away from the central line.
- Clean the skin around the opening for the catheter with germ-killing antiseptic cleanser before putting in the central line. This also keeps germs away from the central line.
- Clean their hands, wear gloves and clean the opening of the central line with a germ-killing antiseptic cleaning solution every time before using tube.
- Remove the central line as soon as possible by carefully considering every day whether the patient still needs the line.
What can patients do to help?
Patients and their family members can help us reduce the risk of central line-associated bloodstream infections. To read about how you can help, please view the central line-associated bloodstream infections fact sheet.
How are we doing?
By following the practices listed above and standardizing the central line insertion process throughout University of Missouri Health Care, we have dramatically lowered central line infection rates over time. Our central line-associated bloodstream infection rates are lower than comparisons set by the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN), a group of more than 1,500 hospitals throughout the country. Those benchmarks compare our intensive care units to ICUs at major teaching hospitals throughout the country. In 2010, central line-associated infection rates in University Hospital's intensive care units were approximately 25 to 75 percent lower than benchmark rates at hospitals similar to ours. Our infection rates are calculated by comparing the average number of infections for every 1,000 days our patients have central lines. Even though our infection rates are better than the NHSN's benchmarks, we continue to work toward a goal of zero preventable infections. In 2002, our rate of central line-associated infections was approximately seven per 1,000 device days. By 2010, our infection rate fell to approximately one infection per 1,000 device days.
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