Background: Current guidelines recommend using antiseptic- or antibiotic-impregnated central venous catheters (CVCs) if, following a comprehensive strategy to prevent catheter-related blood stream infection (CR-BSI), infection rates remain above institutional goals based on benchmark values. The purpose of this study was to determine if chlorhexidine/silver sulfadiazine-impregnated CVCs could decrease the CR-BSI rate in an intensive care unit (ICU) with a low baseline infection rate.
Methods: Pre-intervention and post-intervention observational study in a 24-bed surgical/trauma/burn ICU from October, 2002 to August, 2005. All patients requiring CVC placement after March, 2004 had a chlorhexidine/silver sulfadiazine-impregnated catheter inserted (post-intervention period).
Results: Twenty-three CR-BSIs occurred in 6,960 catheter days (3.3 per 1,000 catheter days)during the 17-month control period. After introduction of chlorhexidine/silver sulfadiazine-impregnated catheters, 16 CR-BSIs occurred in 7,732 catheter days (2.1 per 1,000 catheter days; p = 0.16). The average length of time required for an infection to become established after catheterization was similar in the two groups (8.4 vs. 8.6 days; p = 0.85). Chlorhexidine/silver sulfadiazine-impregnated catheters did not result in a statistically significant change in the microbiological profile of CR-BSIs, nor did they increase the incidence of resistant organisms.
Conclusions: Although chlorhexidine/silver sulfadiazine-impregnated catheters are useful in specific patient populations, they did not result in a statistically significant decrease in the CR-BSI rate in this study, beyond what was achieved with education alone.