Author – Arjun Srinivasan, MD
CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion
As you know, bloodstream infections in patients with central lines can be deadly, killing as many as 1 in 4 patients who gets them. The newest edition of the CDC Vital Signs reports a major decrease in central-line associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) in intensive care unit (ICU) patients. This is an important triumph for patient safety and brings me a renewed sense of hope toward the elimination of HAIs. It also solidifies an expectation that infection prevention should be a priority in order to improve the safety of patients.
While progress is promising, about 60,000 bloodstream infections in patients with central lines still occurred outside of ICUs and in dialysis centers, according to our report. Much of this is preventable harm. We have to make every effort to ensure patients are protected in all healthcare facilities, all the time. So, how do we do that?
The good news is that everyone can contribute to preventing CLABSIs, no matter where the patient receives care.
Patients should feel empowered to ask doctors why the central line is needed, how long it will be needed, and which infection control measures will be followed. Doctors, nurses, and healthcare facilities should follow the CDC-recommended infection control guidelines each and every time a central line is put in and cared for. Also utilize CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network as a prevention tool, so you can identify issues, develop prevention strategies and evaluate progress. State governments can join, start, or expand programs (e.g. “On the Cusp: Stop BSI” ) to keep bloodstream infections from happening in patients with central lines. Your federal government can and will develop and distribute further prevention guidelines and tools – and engage its numerous partners in the promotion of prevention.
Clearly, there is more work to be done to ensure that patients in all healthcare settings are protected from central line-associated bloodstream infections. Are you doing all that you can to ensure your patients are protected from acquiring a CLABSI? What can be done to continue the reduction of these infections outside of our ICUs?