Articles Posted in Central Venous Line and Infections

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According to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine in December 2006, there was a 66 percent reduction in central-line associated blood stream infections after 67 hospitals in Michigan implemented a checklist developed by Peter Pronovost, M.D, Ph.D. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius called on all hospitals across America to use the checklist to reduce central-line infections in ICUs by 75 percent over the next three years, this check list includes:

  • Washing hands before and after examining a patient or inserting, replacing, accessing, repairing and dressing the catheter (line).
  • Disinfecting the skin of the patient before inserting the catheter and during dressing changes.
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A central venous line (central line, central venous catheter) is a long, thin, soft plastic tube that is introduced through a small cut in the skin into a large vein in the neck (internal jugular vein), arm ( arm vein), chest (subclavian vein) or groin (femoral vein). It is used to administer fluids, blood products, nutrients and medications over an extended period of time.

A central venous line is often placed in patients who require care in the intensive care unit to provide nutrition, medication and fluids. Infection can be one of the complications associated with the use of a central venous catheter. Blood stream infection can happen when bacteria and/or fungi enter the blood stream. Other complications may include bleeding, pain, blockage, kinking or shifting of the catheter, air embolism and lung collapse.

As the central venous line is introduced through an opening in the skin, bacteria can grow in this line making the patient more susceptible for blood born infection. Infections associated with a central venous line can be very serious as the bacteria causing these infections can multiply and spread quickly to the entire blood stream causing septicemia which can be fatal.