Central Line Infections

What is a Central Line Infection - Blood Stream Infection (CLI-BSI)?

Patients require a central line when blood, fluid replacement and/or nutrition need to be given to them intravenously. Central lines also allow health care providers to monitor fluid status and make determinations about the heart and blood. Central line infections occur when a central venous catheter (or “line”) placed into a patient’s vein gets infected. This happens when bacteria grow in the line and spreads to the patient’s bloodstream, causing a patient to become sick. The bacteria can come from a variety of places (e.g., skin, wounds, environment, etc.), though it may often come from the patient’s skin. Hospitals follow best practices on how to prevent bacteria from entering the blood stream. Patients in the Critical Care Unit (CCU) often require a central line since they are seriously ill, and will require a lot of medication, for a long period of time.

The rate is calculated as follows:
Number of new hospital-acquired cases of
CLI-BSI in CCU X 1000
Total number of central line days in CCU

What is your hospital doing to improve CLI bloodstream infection rates?

Our hospital has implemented a number of recommended best practices as outlined by the National Campaign Safer Health Care Now.

How serious are CLI bloodstream infections for patients?

Sometimes, a central line infection may spread to the blood stream and may affect organ function, and in severe cases may cause death.

Patient safety remains the most important priority for our hospital; this involves ensuring that patients are not at risk for contracting health care-associated infections.

We have sound infection control programs in place and are committed to using standardized patient safety data and public reporting to drive further improvements.

Can you only get a central line infection in a CCU?

You can get a central line infection in any environment if you have a central line in place (i.e., a hospital ward or at home). However, patients that develop a central line blood stream infection usually become sick very quickly, and are transferred to a CCU for immediate treatment.

The Ministry of Health and Long – Term Care has asked the CLI bloodstream infection rates in CCUs be publicly reported because this is where the majority of patients have central lines.

How are CLI bloodstream infections treated?

CLIs are treated with antibiotics, and patients are usually transferred to the CCU. In all cases they are cared for by a team of highly skilled professionals.

More patient-specific information is available at www.ontario.ca/patientsafety and www.oha.com/patientsafetytips and www.oha.com/cleanhandsprotectlives.

Source: Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

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