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Central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI)

Why It Matters

Central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) occur when germs enter the body through thin plastic tubes that are placed in a large vein near the patient's neck, chest, arm or groin (a central line). Because the tubes can become contaminated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that around 41,000 hospital patients are affected each year.

Doctors and nurses can take steps to reduce the likelihood of infection by performing hand-washing and removing catheters as soon as they are no longer needed. Commonly checklists are used as a tool to help support busy health care provider.

Trained practitioners in the Healthcare Epidemiology and Infection Prevention departments at each Johns Hopkins Medicine hospital perform surveillance for CLABSI. They use criteria developed by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). JHM hospitals track CLABSI in both ICU and non-ICU settings.

CLABSI in Maryland ICUs are being reported to the CDC and the state to help reduce these complications and are made available to the public by the Maryland Health Care Commission.

What We Are Striving For

The system-wide goal is for all Johns Hopkins Medicine ICUs to achieve a standardized infection ratio (SIR) of 0.75 or less. SIR is a standardized national benchmark used to track healthcare-associated infections by comparing the actual and expected numbers of infections over a set time period. JHM uses the CDC's National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) to compare performance with similar units across the United States. 

Kelly Turner treats a patient at Bayview Medical Center

What You Can Do

  • Find out how your area is performing. If you work in an ICU, data about your unit’s performance can be found in the dashboard.
  • Educate yourself. Review your institutional policies and procedures, national guidelines and available scientific literature to learn more about steps to prevent CLABSI.
  • Get involved. Ask your manager about opportunities to get involved with patient safety and quality improvement initiatives in your work area, such as joining or starting a Comprehensive Unit-based Safety (CUSP) Team

Additional Resources

For additional resources or more information about efforts to reduce CLABSI at your institution, please see the Infection Prevention Contacts page. 

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