HF 8293

How to Prevent Central Line Bloodstream Infections in the Hospital

What is a “central line”?

A “central line” is a tube that is placed into a large vein, usually in the neck, chest, arm, or groin. The central line is used to give medicines. A bloodstream infection can occur when bacteria or other germs travel down a central line and enter the blood.

What is a central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI)?

A central line-associated bloodstream infection, or CLABSI, is among the most serious and costly of all healthcare-associated infections. If you develop a CLABSI, you may become ill with fevers and chills. Severe infections can result in:

  • Septic shock (collapse of blood pressure due to infection)

  • Organ damage or failure

  • Abnormal blood clotting

  • Longer hospital stays

  • Death

Causes of a CLABSI

  • The catheter serves as an entry point for germs. These germs can cause infections in the bloodstream with a risk of serious complications. The longer a central line remains in place, the higher the risk of infection.

  • Skin flora changes from normal to “hospital acquired” within 24-48 hours of being in the hospital. This raises the risk of infection.

Ways to Prevent a CLABSI

Your healthcare team will do many things to lower the risk of a CLABSI in the hospital. This includes:

  • Daily chlorhexidine (CHG or Hibiclens) treatment: Daily CHG treatments are used to reduce the numbers of germs on your skin. This soap is very good because it kills germs on your skin for a longer time than other soaps.

    • CHG has been shown to help reduce hospital acquired infections.

    • CHG may also lower the risk of healthcare providers passing bacteria from one patient to another.

  • Removing central lines when no longer necessary: It is best to remove a central line as soon as it is no longer needed. A central line cannot be kept in place only for blood draws; the risk for infection is too high.

  • Other strategies: Your nurse will assess your central line, complete dressing changes, and talk with your doctor about whether the catheter is still needed.