Questions and Answers about Central Line Infections
- 1. What is a Central Line Infection - Blood Stream Infection (CLI-BSI)?
When a patient requires long-term access to medication through an IV, a central line is put in place. A central line infection can occur when bacteria and/or fungi enters the blood stream, 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 ICU often require a central line since they are seriously ill, and will require a lot of medication, for a long period of time.
- 2. What is your hospital doing to improve CLI bloodstream infection rates?
A number of leading practices are available to support hospitals with their infection prevention and control efforts.
Norfolk General Hospital implemented Safer Healthcare Now best practice bundle for Central Line insertion and maintenance Dec. of 2007. This bundle includes a number of interventions that have been proven to reduce the occurrence of CLI.
Safer Healthcare Now! (SHN) http://www.saferhealthcarenow.ca/EN/about/Pages/default.aspx
SHN is a National grass roots initiative aimed at reducing the number of injuries and deaths related to adverse events, such as infections and medication incidents.
Now that hospitals are publicly reporting their CLI rates, they have an additional opportunity to measure and track their quality and patient safety improvements.
- 3. 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.
- 4. Can you only get a central line infection in an ICU?
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 an ICU for immediate treatment.
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has asked that CLI bloodstream infection rates in ICUs be publicly reported because this is where the majority of patients have central lines.
- 5. How are CLI bloodstream infections treated?
CLIs are treated with antibiotics, and patients are usually transferred to the ICU. In all cases they are cared for by a team of highly skilled professionals.
- 6. Do people contract central line infections because of improper sterilization of hospital equipment?
There are many different causes for central line infection. Infection control practices require that central lines are inserted into patients in a sterile environment, and with sterile equipment. There are best practice recommendations known as "central line bundles" that when grouped together reduce the chances of contracting a central line infection.