Central line-associated bloodstream infections in neonatal intensive care: changing the mental model from inevitability to preventability

Am J Perinatol. 2012 Jan;29(1):57-64. doi: 10.1055/s-0031-1286182. Epub 2011 Aug 30.


Previously considered unavoidable complications of hospital care (reflecting an "entitlement" mental model), health care-associated infections are now considered as medical errors and cause significant preventable morbidity and mortality in neonates. Prevention of such infections, particularly central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI), should be an important patient safety priority for all neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). An important first step is to promote a mental model of CLABSIs as preventable complications of care. Other general strategies are (1) promoting an organizational culture of safety and empowerment of staff; (2) hand hygiene; (3) avoiding overcrowding and understaffing; (4) using breast milk for enteral feedings; and (5) involving families in infection prevention efforts. Specific strategies to prevent CLABSI are (1) insertion practices: insertion of all central vascular catheters under strict sterile conditions with the aid of a checklist; (2) maintenance practices: ensuring that entries into the lumen of the vascular catheter always occur under aseptic conditions, minimizing catheter disconnections, and replacement of intravenous infusion sets at recommended intervals; (3) removal of all central lines as soon as possible. Participation in national or statewide quality improvement collaboratives is an emerging trend in neonatology that can enhance CLABSI prevention efforts by NICUs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Catheter-Related Infections / epidemiology
  • Catheter-Related Infections / prevention & control*
  • Catheterization, Central Venous / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infection Control / methods*
  • Intensive Care, Neonatal / standards*
  • Organizational Culture
  • Sepsis / epidemiology
  • Sepsis / prevention & control*