Catheters in Reducing Hospital Deaths

“Our study clearly indicates the importance of using various precautions in insertion and care of central venous catheters,” said Mark Rupp, M.D., professor of internal medicine at University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC). “Infections of these devices result in approximately 250,000 cases of bloodstream infection per year.”

Each year more than 2 million people in the United States develop an infection during their hospital stay. These nosocomial infections are a leading cause of death in the United States and cost nearly $5 billion annually to treat.

The nine-center study evaluated a new kind of central venous catheter designed to help reduce nosocomial infections. The CDC estimates about 53 percent of adult patients in intensive care units have a central venous catheter (CVC) on any given day.

This study compared an antiseptic-coated CVC to an uncoated CVC in 780 intensive care unit patients. The results showed a substantial decrease in bacterial colonization, the first step to an infection, in patients receiving the coated catheters.

But the study revealed something with even broader implications, Dr. Rupp said. It suggested that meticulous infection-control measures used by hospital personnel may have played an even greater role in reducing microbial infections than the catheter itself.

“Our infection rate was much lower possibly because we used good techniques and barriers,” Dr. Rupp said. “What this means is you don’t necessarily have to use coated catheters, you have to use appropriate precautions for inserting and caring for catheters.”

The Institute of Medicine contends that wider implementation of the nosocomial infection guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would save more than 40,000 lives annually, reduce infection rates by up to 50 percent, and save nearly $2.75 billion.; Source: University of Nebraska