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Understanding central line-associated bloodstream infections

When patients in Rhode Island go into emergency departments, doctors’ offices or other medical facilities, they rarely expect to develop worsened conditions due to doctor errors or negligence. In health care facilities of all kinds, central-line associated bloodstream infections, or CLASBIs, are a common issue. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, there are anywhere between 84,551 and 203,916 central line-associated bloodstream infections each year. These often develop in addition to the conditions that patients were initially being treated for, and commonly result in worsened conditions and, in some cases, even death.

Often, patients require the placement of central venous catheters, or central lines, to administer medications or fluids, or to collect blood. These catheters are generally placed into large veins in the neck, chest or groin. CLASBIs are serious infections that may develop when bacteria or viruses enter into the bloodstream through these lines. As a result of these infections, patients may experience fevers, chills, or redness or soreness around the catheter’s insertion point, or become very ill.

CLASBIs are generally considered totally preventable. This is because they typically result from negligence or substandard care. There are a number of things that health care professionals can do to prevent their patients from developing CLASBIs, including the following:

  •        Using sterile barrier precautions
  •        Ensuring the central lines and insertion sites stay dry
  •        Removing central lines as soon as they are no longer required
  •        Avoiding inserting central lines before the prep agents have completely dried
  •        Washing hands thoroughly prior to, and after, touching central lines

Following these safety precautions, along with other recommended central line maintenance practices, medical providers can help ensure the safety of those they are treating.

There are also steps that patients can take to help prevent contracting a CLASBI. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it can be important for patients to pay attention to their bandages to avoid developing worsened conditions due to CLASBIs. They should immediately notify their health care providers if their bandaging becomes wet or dirty so that it can be changed. Furthermore, patients should tell their physicians if they develop symptoms associated with CLASBIs.

Due to CLASBIs, people may require extended recovery times and incur added medical expenses. It may benefit those who have developed these types of infections to consult with a legal representative to discuss their rights and options.

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