Rates of Central Line Infections in Hospitals Continue to Be Troubling

Glowing%20Gloves.jpgThe Indiana medical malpractice attorneys at our firm have been following the progress made in reducing the incidence of deadly central line infections or catheter-related blood stream infections in hospitals. We’ve blogged on the subject in the past, including success stories from hospitals around the country that have been able to reduce the incidences of these infections merely by following simple steps, like checklists.

However, at far too many hospitals in the country, preventing these infections continues to be a challenge. According to a new survey conducted by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), these infections continue to be a major challenge in the facility where they work.

The survey involved more than 2,000 doctors specializing in infection control. Of these 40% said that their facility had been very active in undertaking infection control programs. An encouraging 71% worked at hospitals that had formal written policies about infection control. However, in spite of these commendable measures, 48% said that catheter-related infection control was still a major problem at their hospitals. The percentage of doctors in the survey, who said that the risk of these infections was not an issue, was a meager 12 %. The biggest challenge in preventing these infections seemed to come from enforcing infection control policies, training staff, and conducting surveillance.

In the report, APIC President Cathryn Murphy sites that bloodstream infections from catheters are preventable with clear, actionable steps. According to Murphy, some hospitals have dropped their infections rates to zero. She shares the frustration that some hospitals still have difficulty avoiding these infections.

It is estimated that 80,000 U.S. patients develop catheter-related bloodstream infections each year. Of those, nearly 30,000 die. This accounts for close to a third of the 99,000 yearly deaths that result from healthcare-associated infections. The average cost for treating a patient with this type of infection can exceed $30,000. The total annual cost to the U.S. healthcare system is more than $2 billion.

Obviously, whatever is going on here is far too complex to encapsulate in a single blog post. It seems like more hospitals are taking measures to prevent central line-related bloodstream infections in hospitals, but these are not being as effective as hoped. Training of medical care staff, especially nurses and support staff, is a big part of preventing these infections, and it looks like many hospitals still struggle on this front. All the most well-intentioned policies in the world won’t matter, if your staff isn’t willing to, or is unable to, implement these practices at the grassroots level.