Central Line Infections in Intensive Care Units

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Why is this measure important?

A central line is a tube that is placed in a large vein in the neck, chest or arm to quickly deliver fluid, blood or medication that the patient needs.   An infection can occur when bacteria or other germs travel down the central line and enter the bloodstream.

Central line bloodstream infections can be very dangerous and are believed to be the cause of nearly a third of all infection-related deaths in U.S. hospitals today.  They are also estimated to add $42,000 to the average hospital bills of patients who get central line infections while they are in the hospital.

How do we track this measure?

As part of our hospital’s infection control program, we routinely track the number of central line-associated infections that occur in all four of our intensive care units.  Our goal is to have no central line-associated infections.

How do we compare to other hospitals?

As of the second quarter of 2012, our central line infection rates in the pediatric cardiac ICU, pediatric medical ICU and pediatric medical/surgical ICU were below the national rates reported for other hospitals by the federal Centers for Disease Control through its National Healthcare Safety Network. The infection rate is the number of infections per 1,000 central line days (the number of days that patients are on central lines). 

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