Central Line Catheter Infections Greatly Reduced By Targeted Prevention Steps: Study

Using certain safety measures when placing and caring for central line catheters reduced hospital-acquired infections and saved money, according to the findings of a new study. 

Researchers from California found that using specific safety controls when central venous catheters were placed, such as the use of sterile gloves and antimicrobial dressings, reduced bloodstream infections by 57%.

The study was published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, evaluating data on central line infections at 113 hospitals, including information from 505 articles and 15 unique studies that occurred over the past 10 years.

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Central line blood infections are a healthcare associated infection that affects patients hospitalized and treated for a variety of different conditions.

A central line is an intravenous catheter inserted directly into a major vein, near the heart, to transfuse blood or insert medications. Central line infections are contracted in a hospital within 48 hours after the central line has been inserted.

It is estimated that central line catheter infections cost the health care system about $45,000 per case, and hospitals have made substantial efforts in recent years to implement new safety procedures to reduce the risk. These safety measures include using sterile gloves, covering catheters with antimicrobial dressings and checking catheters daily for signs of infection or movement. Yet, not all hospitals have implemented these measures.

According to the findings of this latest study, the use of these catheter safety measures decreased the number of central line bloodstream infections by 57%. Hospitals also saved an average of $1.85 million over three years.

A study published in 2014 indicated hospitals were able to reduce central line infections by 68 percent over two years using disinfection caps. Another study found that by replacing connectors with zero fluid displacement connectors on central lines bloodstream infections dropped 60% to 94%.

In the new study, researchers concluded with each $100,000 increase in program investments in central line safety, hospitals received an average of $315,000 or more in savings. Infections and costs declined even when checklists were already in use or when baseline infection rates were as low as 1.7 to 3.7 per 1,000 catheter-days.

“Interventions related to central venous catheters were, on average, associated with 57% fewer bloodstream infections and substantial savings to hospitals,” the researchers concluded. “Larger initial investments may be associated with greater savings. Although checklists are now widely used and infections have started to decline, additional improvements and savings can occur at hospitals that have not yet attained very low infection rates.”

The use of central line catheters are linked to more than 60,000 primary bloodstream infections every year, according to the researchers. About 12% of such infections result in the death of the patient.


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