Five Simple Steps to Prevent a Central Line Infection

IV%20and%20infection.jpgA series of five simple steps is all it takes to prevent a potentially deadly central line–associated infection in a hospital. The steps are part of a checklist that is simple to follow, and highly recommended by the World Health Organization, but many hospitals continue to delay its use.

The checklist was developed by Peter Pronovost, a critical care physician at Johns Hopkins University. The checklist was born out of the death of his patient, an 18-month-old burn victim who was recovering from her injuries when she contracted the deadly infection. She died just three days later.

When Pronovost went through existing research on central line infections, he was surprised to find that there were actually many steps that hospitals could take to prevent the risk of these infections. Overall, he found more than 90 separate guidelines that hospitals can follow.

Realizing that it would not be possible for a hospital to follow so many different guidelines to prevent bloodstream infections, he and his fellow researchers narrowed down those guidelines to five essential steps that medical staff can take to significantly reduce the risk of central line associated infections.

The five steps include the following.
• Wash hands thoroughly with soap or alcohol before inserting the catheter.
• Wear protective gear, including sterile gloves, mask, gown and hat at all times.
• Cover the patient completely, using drapes.
• Clean the insertion site on the skin, using a solution of chlorhexidine.
• Make sure that the catheters are removed when they are no longer necessary.

These simple steps are easy enough to follow and significantly reduce the risk of central line-associated infections. Pronovost found that within three months of using the checklist, the number of central line infections at the surgical intensive care unit at Johns Hopkins University dropped by 50%. By the end of six months, those infection rates were down by a staggering 70%.

Resistance to change is the primary reason why so many hospitals continue to neglect using the checklist, exposing patients to the risk of potentially deadly central line infections. However, hospital personnel who act in the best interest of the patient population will seriously consider acting on these important steps to preventing central line infections.

If your loved one was injured as a result of medical negligence in a hospital, discuss your legal options for compensation with an Indiana medical malpractice attorney at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson and Kennedy, LLP.