Central Line - Associated Blood Stream Infections

What is CLABSI?

A CLABSI is a serious infection that occurs in the blood stream due to catheter use. A central catheter is placed into a patient’s large vein, typically in the neck, chest, arm, or groin to draw blood, or give fluids or medication. A blood stream infection can occur when bacteria travel down the central line and into the blood; this type of infection is called a central line-associated blood stream infection (CLABSI).

CLABSI symptoms include fever, chills, and sore and red skin around the catheter.

Central line-associated blood stream infections (CLABSI) are a major cause of healthcare-associated morbidity and mortality. This type of infection is serious, but often can be successfully treated with antibiotics.

CLABSI can be prevented by choosing a vein where the catheter can be safely inserted and where the risk for infection is small, proper hand washing and use of protective equipment like gloves and a sterile gown, and careful cleaning of the area around the catheter. Every day, healthcare providers should assess whether the patient needs to have the catheter, and remove it as soon as it is no longer needed. If you do not see your providers clean their hands, please ask them to do so.

Prevention Measures:

  • Perform daily audits to assess whether each central line is still needed
  • Follow proper insertion practices, like performing hand hygiene before insertion, adhering to aseptic technique, use maximal sterile barrier precautions, performing skin antisepsis with >0.5% chlorhexidine with alcohol, and choosing the best site to minimize infections and mechanical complications.
  • Handle and maintain central lines appropriately, by complying with hand hygiene requirements, scrubbing the access port immediately prior to each use with appropriate antiseptic, accessing catheters only with sterile devices, and performing dressing changes under aseptic technique.


Guidelines for CLABSI Prevention: