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Preventing Central Line-Associated Bloodstream Infection (CLA-BSI)

What is a central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLA-BSI)?

A central line-associated bloodstream infection, or “CLA-BSI,” occurs when a central venous catheter, or “central line,” becomes infected. This happens when bacteria grow in or around the line and spread to the patient’s bloodstream.

What are the symptoms of CLA-BSI?

If you notice any of the following, contact your health care provider:

  • Redness, pain, or swelling at or near the catheter site
  • Pain or tenderness along the path of the catheter
  • Drainage from the skin around the catheter
  • Sudden fever or chills

What should your health care provider do to prevent CLA-BSI?

Your health care provider should take several steps to help prevent CLA-BSI. Please ensure that the following precautions are taken.

Your health care provider should:

  • Practice proper hand washing techniques. Everyone who touches the central line must wash their hands with soap and water — or use an alcohol-based hand rub — prior to touching the line.
  • Wear a mask, gloves, gown, and hair cover when placing the central line. During your procedure, you should be covered from head to toe with a sterile drape that has a small hole where the central line will be placed.
  • Clean your skin with a special type of soap, called “chlorhexidine,” before placing the central line.
  • Check the line frequently for infection.
  • Immediately change your dressing (bandage) around the central line if it becomes damp, loose, or dirty.
  • Scrub the hub (the end of the tube) with either alcohol or chlorhexidine, prior to putting anything into the end of your central line.

What should you do to prevent CLA-BSI?

To help prevent CLA-BSI, you should take the following precautions:

  • Wash your hands often, especially after using the bathroom, coughing, sneezing, visiting someone who is sick, or touching food.
  • Try not to touch your central line, or the dressing around the central line, unless instructed to do so.
  • Avoid getting the dressing wet or dirty.
  • If you have any concerns or questions, do not hesitate to ask your health care provider.

How is CLA-BSI treated?

If your central line becomes infected, your health care provider will discuss treatment options, including:

  • Antibiotics to fight the infections
  • Catheter replacement, depending on your therapy
  • Catheter removal

Reviewed August 2013

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