When people in Oregon and elsewhere require hospitalization, they do not typically consider that factors relating to their treatment may contribute to making them sicker. Unfortunately, however, patients may contract serious illnesses while in the hospital, including central line-associated bloodstream infections. 

Often used in intensive care units, central lines are catheters that get placed in major veins in patients’ chests, necks or groins. When bacteria, viruses or other germs get into the bloodstream through these catheter lines, patients may develop serious infections, which may cause worsened medical conditions or death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, thousands of patients die each year as a result of central line-associated bloodstream infections. 

In order to help protect themselves from these types of infections, more commonly referred to as CLASBIs, patients may take steps including the following: 

  • Refrain from touching the tubing 
  • Ask visitors not to touch the catheter or tubing 
  • Avoid getting the insertion site or central line wet 
  • Notify a health care provider if the bandaging around the insertion site gets wet or dirty 

Patients should also inform their physicians if they experience any symptoms that might signal a CLASBI, such as soreness or redness around the insertion site, fever, chills, or nausea and vomiting. 

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, taking the appropriate safety precautions may help medical professionals prevent their patients from developing CLASBIs. Health care providers should practice appropriate hand hygiene, washing their hands thoroughly between patients and after performing certain procedures. It is also important that when inserting central venous catheters, medical professionals use full-barrier precautions and prep the skin around the insertion site with chlorhexidine. When they are no longer necessary, central lines should be immediately removed to help prevent the potential spread of germs that might lead to CLASBIs.