Hospital-Acquired Central Line Infections Cut By Disinfection Caps

Researchers indicate that hospitals may be able to reduce the risk of central line infections by implementing a simple step during the catheter process.   

In a study conducted at the Loyola University Health System in Chicago, researchers were able to decrease the overall number of central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) by 68% over a two-year period.

Researchers compared the use of disinfection caps to an intense scrub-the-hub intervention, the latter which is considered a standard of care, according to a press release issued by the University.

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The study was presented at the annual conference for the Association of Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) by lead author Marcelina M. Wawrzyniak, who also received the Young Investigator Award at the conference.

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. CLABSIs are contracted in a hospital within 48 hours after the central line has been inserted.

Standard care suggests central line maintenance includes a scrub-the-hub procedure. This refers to cleaning the catheter connector hubs and injection ports with alcohol for 15 seconds before the central line is placed in the vein.

“Loyola discovered that 80 percent of infections occurring in the scrub-the-hub arm were related to not scrubbing the hub for the required full 15 seconds,” says Marcelina M. Wawrzyniak, MSN, RN, study author and infection preventionist at Loyola University Medical Center.

Loyola researchers found substituting alcohol impregnated catheter connector caps for the scrub-the-hub procedure reduced CLABSI over the long term. The caps replaced the need for hospital staff to conduct scrub-the-hub procedures.

Loyola was able to decrease 59 CLABSIs to 23 within a 12-month period using the alcohol caps and reduced hospital costs by more than $1 million.

A study published last year indicated the number of central line infections throughout the U.S. may be significantly reduced if medical providers changed IV or line connectors properly.

Researchers from Georgia Regents University used zero fluid displacement connectors with central line or central catheters and decreased infection rates 60% to 90%. The research supports the findings of the new study, showing certain precautions and preventions may help prevent infections.

Hospital Infections Costly in Money and Lives

Experts estimate the cost of CLABSI reached $45,000 per infection. Another study published last year found hospital-acquired infections cost the U.S. healthcare system nearly $10 billion annually.

Most hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) are considered preventable events if providers use proper precautions and prevention steps. The study highlighted the five most common types of HAIs, noting central line infections was number one and the most costly.

One out of every 25 hospital patients acquires an infection somewhere in the healthcare system, accounting for more than 700,000 hospital acquired infections, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nearly 75,000 hospital patients died in 2011 after contracting infections they did not have when they were first admitted to the healthcare system.


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