Initial remarks: This blog, by Lawrence F Muscarella, PhD, lists a few important facts about central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs).

[1] Central venous catheters, or simply central lines, are long, narrow intravascular catheters (tubes) that are inserted into one of the patient’s large peripheral veins, typically terminating at or near the heart, or in one of the body’s “great vessels” (e.g., the superior vena cava).

[2] Among other functions, these intravascular devices may be used to draw samples of blood to evaluate patients for bloodstream infections (e.g., bacteremia), including those that may be associated with the central line itself, namely, CLABSIs, which have become a popular metric to assess and gauge a hospital’s safety and quality.

[3] CLABSIs are primary bloodstream infections that are associated with inserted central lines and, satisfying certain criteria, are not related to infection at another body site. (Secondary bloodstream infections, in contrast, are those in patients with central lines that are associated with a primary infection at another body site.)

[4] Central lines are reportedly responsible for approximately 80,000 bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) in intensive care units (ICUs) each year in the U.S. These infections may be associated with:

  • prolonged hospitalization;
  • an average cost of $42,000 per infection (or an annual cost estimated to be as high as $2.3 billion in the U.S.); and
  • an attributable mortality rate of as high as 25% to 35%.

[5] In pediatric ICUs, CLABSIs are reported to be the most common type of healthcare-associated infection. No doubt, the prevention of CLABSIs in hospitals is crucial not only to improving public health and reducing healthcare costs, but also to promoting both awareness and an evidence-based culture in all types of healthcare settings.

Blog by: Lawrence F Muscarella, PhD, posted on 5-21-2013

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