Avoiding central line-associated bloodstream infections in Rhode Island

Central line-associated bloodstream infections, which may cause worsened medical conditions or death, can be prevented by taking precautions.

People throughout the East Bay and West Bay areas often seek medical care for the treatment of acute maladies, emergency medical ailments or ongoing health conditions. When seeking such treatment, few patients expect to face situations that cause their conditions to worsen, or to become life-threatening. Unfortunately, however, doctor and hospital errors occur and frequently cause serious medical conditions, such as central line-associated bloodstream infections.

Also known as CLASBIs, central line-associated bloodstream infections are an all too common problem in health care facilities of all types. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 30,100 CLABIs occur in acute care facilities across the U.S. each year. Often, patients contract these infections in addition to the conditions they were initially being treated for.

What are CLASBIs?

Some types of treatments require the placement of central venous catheters, or central lines. Typically, these lines are inserted into the veins in the groin, chest or neck. They, like intravenous catheters, are generally used to collect blood, or to administer fluids or medication.

According to the CDC, CLASBIs are a type of bloodstream infection, which may occur when germs or bacteria enter the bloodstream through central venous catheters. As a result of these infections, patients may become extremely ill, and experience fevers and chills. Additionally, the area around the line's insertion point may become sore. These conditions may be considerably more dangerous for patients who are already suffering from some types of medical conditions.

Prevention strategies for medical providers

In general, CLASBIs develop as a result of below average care. Therefore, they are completely preventable. As such, there are a number of things that medical professionals can do to reduce the risk of their patients developing CLASBIs. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality points out that this includes the following:

• Practicing appropriate hand hygiene before inserting or touching central lines

• Preparing skin with chlorhexidine before placing central lines

• Avoiding inserting central lines into adult patients' femoral veins

• Utilizing the appropriate barrier precautions when placing central lines

Additionally, medical providers should remove central venous catheters once they are no longer needed. Making sure that central lines stay dry and clean is also helpful in limiting the occurrence of CLASBIs. By following these, and other recommended safety precautions, health care professionals can help ensure the safety of their patients.

Prevention strategies for patients

Beyond the safeguards that medical professionals should employ, patients themselves can also take steps to avoid contracting CLASBIs. Patients should monitor the area around their central line insertion site, and their bandages. If the area becomes red or sore, they should inform their health care provider immediately. They should also inform their medical providers if their bandages get wet or become dirty.

Furthermore, it is important for patients to avoid touching their catheters or tubing unless it is absolutely necessary. They should also ask their visitors to refrain from touching their central lines. In addition, it is advisable for patients to ask health care professionals if they have washed their hands before they allow them to touch their central lines.

Seeking legal guidance

Those who develop CLASBIs in Rhode Island often need additional medical treatment. This commonly leads to unexpected medical expenses and, in some cases, lost wages. Since these serious infections are preventable, however, their health care providers, or the facilities where they received treatment, may be liable. Thus, patients who have experienced this type of situation may benefit from consulting with an attorney. A lawyer may counsel them on their rights and options.