Central Line-Associated Bloodstream Infections

Have you or a loved one ever needed to use a catheter for a treatment procedure in a hospital? Catheter-associated bloodstream infections also known as central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) cause illness and even death for thousands yearly. Often these infections are serious—healthcare professionals and patients must take the appropriate steps in monitoring and treating infections before severe complications arise.

Central venous catheters, also known as central lines are medical devices inserted into a patient’s large vein, typically in the neck, chest or groin in order to administer medication and/or collect blood for testing purposes. CLABSI occurs when bacteria or other harmful pathogens enter the bloodstream through a central line. Because these central lines connect to major veins, often close to the heart, in a patient’s body, these infections are deemed very serious. So who is prone to these infections?

Photo 1: Illustration of a central-line catheter placed in a patient's chest. Credit: Mosaic Life Care

Photo 1: Illustration of a central-line catheter placed in a patient’s chest. Credit: Mosaic Life Care

Patients in the ICU are known to be at risk for CLABSI. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 48% of patients in the ICU have central line catheters. The CLABSI rate is known to be 5.3 per 1000 catheter days, with mortality rate at 18%. This means up to 28,000 patients in the ICU die from CLABSI in the U.S. yearly. Each CLABSI infection approximately costs $26,000.

Due to the severity of these infections, prevention is of the utmost importance. Like other health-care associated infections, an essential component of prevention is proper sanitary precautions like proper hand hygiene and maintaining sterile conditions when inserting the catheter. The CDC, urges patients to minimize the frequency of visitors when being placed on a catheter to reduce the risk of infection. Furthermore, the patient should refrain from touching the catheter at any point during treatment.

While prevention is the first line of defense against CLABSI, understanding treatment mitigates severity and risk CLABSI poses. Patients should monitor their own health are watch for CLABSI symptoms like fever and/or soreness around the catheter site and alert a healthcare professional once these symptoms arise. Antibiotics can often treat these infections; however, with the rise of multi-drug resistant bacteria, treatment can be prolonged and complicated. Often, new treatments and therapies have to be considered for adequate treatment.

CLABSI is both an abundant and serious issues affecting ICU patients in hospitals around the world. Extra steps should be taken to reduce its occurrence and efforts to find adequate treatment should be taken seriously.


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