Understanding central line-associated bloodstream infections

Central line-associated bloodstream infections may be developed due to medical negligence or mistakes and often result in worsened medical conditions.

When they are seeking medical treatment, few people in New Mexico, and elsewhere, expect their conditions to worsen or that they will develop additional ailments. However, due to medical negligence, emergency room errors and other doctor mistakes, patients may develop central line-associated bloodstream infections, among other maladies. In fact, an estimated 30,100 central line-associated bloodstream infections, or CLASBIs, are acquired in acute care and intensive care units across the U.S. each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What are CLASBIs?

Sometimes, patients require central line catheters to draw blood, give fluids or administer medications. These lines may be inserted into the large veins in patients' necks, chests, groins or arms. Also known as catheter-associated bloodstream infections, CLASBIs are a type of bloodstream infection. According to the CDC, this type of infection may develop when germs enter the blood through central lines.

What are the effects of CLASBIs?

People who develop CLASBIs may experience a range of effects. The CDC points out that patients may experience fevers or chills, as well as become ill due to these infections. Additionally, the area around where their catheters are inserted may become sore or red.

For those who are already suffering from serious conditions, CLASBIs may be particularly dangerous. Often, patients who develop these infections require additional medical treatment including a course of antibiotics or an extended hospital stay. In some cases, CLASBIs may be fatal.

How can CLASBIs be prevented?

With proper insertion and care, CLASBIs are generally preventable. In order to help ensure their patients' safety, health care professionals should follow the appropriate cleanliness and sterilization protocols. According to the CDC, this includes the following:

• Following proper hand hygiene before inserting or handling central lines

• Using the appropriate aseptic technique

• Only accessing central lines with sterile devices

• Using sterile barrier precautions when inserting catheters

• Removing central lines if they are not needed

Also, it is important for medical providers to change the dressings around patients' catheter insertion sites if they become damp, dirty or dislodged.

Patients themselves may also take steps to help limit their risk of developing CLASBIs. As much as possible, they should avoid touching their catheters. They should also ask their visitors not to touch them. Before allowing medical professionals to touch their central lines, patients should ask them if they have washed their hands. It is also important for people to inform their health care providers if their dressings become wet or soiled, or if the area around their catheter insertion site becomes red or sore.

Seek legal guidance

When people in New Mexico develop CLASBIs, they often require additional medical treatment, which may carry unexpected costs. Further, they may lose income if they need to take time off of work to recover. If negligence on the part of a medical professional contributed to their conditions, however, he or she may be held responsible. Therefore, those who have developed such infections may benefit from consulting with an attorney discuss their options for pursuing compensation.