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Preventing Central Line-Associated Bloodstream Infections

A Central Line-Associated Bloodstream Infection (CLABSI) is serious, but of ten can be successfully treated with antibiotics. The central line (i.e., catheter) might need to be removed if a patient develops an infection. Below is a summary of steps to follow to help prevent CLABSIs from occuring.

What do nurses and doctors do to prevent CLABSI?
  • Choose a vein where the catheter can be safely inserted and where the risk for infection is small.

  • Clean their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub before putting in the catheter.

  • Wear a mask, cap, sterile gown, and sterile gloves when putting in the catheter to keep it sterile. The patient will be covered with a sterile sheet.

  • Clean the patient’s skin with an antiseptic cleanser before putting in the catheter.

  • Clean their hands, wear gloves, and clean the catheter opening with an antiseptic solution before using the catheter to draw blood or give medications.

  • Clean their hands and wear gloves when changing the bandage that covers the area where the catheter enters the skin.

  • Decide every day if the patient still needs to have the catheter. The catheter will be removed as soon as it is no longer needed1.
What can I do to help prevent a CLABSI?
  • Ask your doctors and nurses to explain why you need the catheter and how long you will have it.

  • Ask your doctors and nurses if they will be using all of the prevention methods discussed above.

  • Make sure that all those caring for you clean their hands with soap and water or an alcoholbased hand rub before and after caring for you.

  • Tell your nurse or doctor immediately if the bandage comes off or becomes wet or dirty.

  • Inform your nurse or doctor if the area around your catheter is sore or red.

  • Do not let visitors touch the catheter or the tubing.

  • Make sure family and friends clean their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub before and after visiting you.

Remember: If you do not see your providers clean their hands, please ask them to do so1.

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, APIC, Joint Commission, IDSA, AHA, SHEA, FAQ Sheet about “Catheter-Associated Bloodstream Infections”


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