Central venous catheter-related bloodstream infections: improving post-insertion catheter care

J Hosp Infect. 2009 Feb;71(2):117-22. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2008.09.016. Epub 2008 Nov 14.


Patients with central venous catheters (CVCs) are at increased risk of bloodstream infections and sepsis-related death. CVC-related bloodstream infections (CRBSIs) are costly and account for a significant proportion of hospital-acquired infections. The aim of this audit was to assess current practice and staff knowledge of CVC post-insertion care and therefore identify aspects of CVC care with potential for improvement. We conducted a prospective audit over 28 consecutive days at a university teaching hospital investigating current practice of CVC post-insertion care in wards with high CVC usage. A multiple choice questionnaire on best practice of CVC insertion and care was distributed among clinical staff. Rates of breaches in catheter care and CRBSIs were calculated and statistical significance assumed when P<0.05. Data was recorded from 151 CVCs in 106 patients giving a total of 721 catheter days. In all, 323 breaches in care were identified giving a failure rate of 44.8%, with significant differences between intensive care unit (ICU) and non-ICU wards (P<0.001). Dressings (not intact) and caps and taps (incorrectly placed) were identified as the major lapses in CVC care with 158 and 156 breaches per 1000 catheter days, respectively. During the study period four CRBSIs were identified, producing a CRBSI rate of 5.5 per 1000 catheter days (95% confidence interval: 0.12-10.97). There are several opportunities to improve CVC post-insertion care. Future interventions to improve reliability of care should focus on implementing best practice rather than further education.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bacteremia / prevention & control*
  • Catheterization, Central Venous / adverse effects*
  • Catheterization, Central Venous / methods
  • Catheters, Indwelling / microbiology
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Cross Infection / etiology
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence*
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Humans
  • Iatrogenic Disease / prevention & control
  • Infection Control / methods*
  • Infection Control / standards
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Young Adult