Many Patients Receive Ineffective Treatment for Bloodstream Infections

hand%20sanitizer.jpgBloodstream infections, or central line-associated bloodstream infections, contribute to thousands of patient fatalities every year. According to a new study, many patients, especially those who are treated in community hospitals, may not be able to access effective and appropriate treatment for bloodstream infections.

The results of the study, which were published recently in the journal Plos One, found that patients who were treated at community care hospitals were less likely to receive the kind of antibiotic therapy that they needed for these infections. However, overall, the researchers found ineffective treatment not just in community care centers, but also in highly specialized hospitals, or tertiary care centers. The researchers conclude from their findings that there needs to be more improvement in the kind of treatment that a patient is given immediately after being diagnosed with a bloodstream infection at a community care center or a tertiary care center.

Part of the challenge in treating central line-associated bloodstream infections is the fact that many of these infections are now caused by superbugs, or antibiotic-resistant bacteria. An increase in the number and types of such superbugs means that many antibiotics don’t work to treat the infections, and therefore, you have treatment that is ineffective.

The study focused on 1,500 patients who contracted bloodstream infections, and found that out of these, 30% were not given appropriate antibiotic therapy. There were some categories of patients who seemed to have a much higher risk for inappropriate and ineffective therapy. For example, patients who admitted into a nursing home or hospital at least once over the past year were much more likely to receive ineffective or inaccurate treatment for the infection.

Central line-associated bloodstream infections are caused when pathogens are introduced directly into the bloodstream. A central line is a catheter that is used to inject fluids, drugs or nutrition directly to the patient’s bloodstream. Central lines are different from IV lines, in the sense that these can be placed and left for weeks and even months. Because they are left in place for a longer period of time, there’s a much higher risk of contamination, especially when health-care personnel or nurses don’t follow appropriate hand hygiene and sterilization procedures before handling the lines.

In order to prevent infections, it is absolutely critical that hospital personnel, especially nurses, follow strict protocols while handling the lines. They must ensure that the line remains absolutely sterile. Besides following stringent hand hygiene practices, personnel must also use appropriate antiseptics while handling the central line, and must use barrier precautions including gloves, gowns, and masks to prevent contamination. Central lines must also be removed when they are determined to be no longer necessary. The longer the line is left in, the greater the risk of contamination and infection.

The Indiana medical malpractice lawyers at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson Kennedy LLP represent victims of medical negligence across Indiana.