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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.