Good news this time.  The number of bloodstream infections in intensive care unit patients with central lines decreased by 58% over the last 10 years according to a new CDC Vital Signs report. This decrease saved 27,000 lives and $1.8B in excess health care costs. Bloodstream infections in patients with central lines can be deadly, killing as many as 1 in 4 patients who gets one.

Most hospital Infectious Disease Committees follow central line infections very closely these days. Back in the day (about 10-15 years ago), it was common practice to put in central lines at the bedside with only a pair of sterile gloves. Now most hospitals require full gowning, face mask, and cap, along with full sterile draping of the patient. This is even required now in many ORs for central lines put in patients right before surgery.

You can check out our website dedicated to preventing Healthcare Associated Infections.   We also help facilitate communication through the hospital association for facilities that are participating in the national collaborative “On the Cusp” to prevent blood stream infections.  Part of our strategic initiatives for 2011 is to help address blood stream infections in hemodialysis units so our prevention efforts will be extending beyond acute care hospitals.

By the way- a “central line” and a simple “IV” are different things.  Central lines are inserted into large veins  and are pretty big because they need to handle a large volume.  Simple IV’s usually go into veins.  IV’s have a much lower risk of infection.