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Enhanced Catheter Safety Helps Reduce Hospital Infections

Improved safety measures associated with catheters are reducing the risk of contamination of central venous lines and fatal blood stream infections in hospitals.

According to a new study, when hospitals improve catheter safety, there is a significant reduction in the number of potentially fatal bloodstream infections, as well as a drop in health care costs. In the United States alone, more than 50,000 bloodstream infections every year are directly linked to the use of central lines or central venous catheters. Approximately 12% of these infections are fatal.The central lines are used in intensive care units to deliver nutrients and drugs directly to the patients’ bloodstreams. However, the risk of contamination during handling and changing of these catheters is very high. Any contamination of the catheter could quickly result in an infection, spreading quickly to a patient’s bloodstream through the central lines and causing complications.

However, since the spotlight on hospital-acquired infections has increased, many hospitals have moved to implement new safety measures that are designed to reduce the risk of catheter contamination. More hospitals have enforced policies that require staff members to use sterile gloves and other protective equipment during the handling of catheters. Some hospitals are also now training staff members in the proper use and management of catheters, and use of other equipment and supplies to prevent infections.

In one study, researchers found that improving catheter safety policies decreases the risk of central line infections by as much as 57%. Overall, the cost of treatment of such infections dropped by approximately $1.85 million at each of the 113 U.S. hospitals that were analyzed as part of the three-year study. The cost of caring for patients, who have suffered a central line-associated bloodstream infection is extremely high. These infections lead to complications like pneumonia and sepsis. They increase the number of days that a patient is required to remain in an intensive care unit and in the hospital.

The study was published in the journal, JAMA Internal Medicine, and focused on bloodstream and other infection rates at hospitals that have invested in greater central line safety measures.
Medical negligence causes thousands of injuries every year, including potentially deadly infections. The Atlanta injury lawyers at Katz Wright Fleming Dodson & Mildenhall, LLC represent patients who have suffered injuries as a result of medical negligence in the metro Atlanta region and across Georgia.