According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC), 248,000 bloodstream infections occur in U.S. hospitals each
year. Many of these are in patients who have a central vascular
catheter (central line). Central lines are not typical IVs; they
are inserted through the skin and may stay in place for weeks to
months or longer. They are important for pediatric
patients who cannot live without constant lifesaving
Central Line Associated Blood Stream Infections
Central line blood stream infections account for about 15
percent of all hospital infections. They are often serious
infections that may cause a longer hospital stay, higher cost and
risk of death. Treatment for each central line blood stream
infection costs an estimated $20,000 to $40,000.
Central line blood stream infections can be reduced or prevented
if everyone touching the line follows best practices and infection
control guidelines. Washing hands thoroughly with soap and water or
appropriate alcohol-based hand cleaners before or after caring for
the central line is just one important step. If the area around the
central line becomes sore or red, or if the bandage becomes wet,
dirty or falls off, a nurse or doctor should be notified at once.
Central lines should be removed as soon as they are no longer
Who is impacted?
Each year more than 5 million central lines are placed in
patients in the U.S. Some are required for only a week or so.
Others may be in place for months or years. Patients requiring
central lines are at risk for developing a central line blood
What does this all mean?
Many groups that focus on patient safety consider central line
blood stream infections to be preventable. Children's Mercy
Hospital has made it a priority to increase central line care
awareness among staff and families. A hospital committee was formed
to determine central line best practices and to make sure we
provide the best central line care. This committee, composed of
health care workers who are responsible for insertion and
maintenance of central lines, also asked for input from parents of
former patients to ensure families' voices were included in the
Our goal as a hospital is to reduce central line blood stream
infections by 50 percent every six months until we reach zero. Once
we have reached this goal, we will continue striving to maintain a
zero infection rate. Since initiating the committee, we have seen
an overall decrease in central line blood stream infections at
The above chart shows the total number of central
line blood stream infections per 1,000 central line days. The number
of central line days is based on the number of patients in the
hospital who have a central line and the length of time they are
here. For example, if one patient had a central line for 20 days
and another patient had a central line for 30 days that would equal
50 line days.
Where can I go for more information?
To learn more about prevention of Central Line Infections,
please use the following resources: