A central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI) occurs when bacteria enters the bloodstream through a central line catheter. A central line catheter is a long, thin tube that is inserted through a vein until it reaches a larger vein close to the heart. It is used to deliver medication, nutrition, IV fluids, and chemotherapy.
If bacteria start to grow on the central line catheter, they can easily enter the blood and cause a serious infection. This can lead to a condition called sepsis, which occurs when bacteria overwhelm the body.
Bacteria normally live on the skin. These bacteria will sometimes track along the outside of the catheter. From the catheter, they can get into the bloodstream.
Factors that may increase your chance of a CLABSI:
CLABSI may cause:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Tests may include:
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
When you are getting a central line placed, the staff will follow a series of steps to reduce your risk of infection.
There are also steps that you can take to reduce your risk of infection:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Society of Critical Care Medicine
Canadian Patient Safety Institute
Central venous catheter. American Thoracic Society website. Available at: https://www.thoracic.org/patients/patient-resources/resources/central-venous-catheter.pdf. Accessed March 2, 2018.
Central venous catheter. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T146372/Central-venous-catheter. Updated October 25, 2017. Accessed March 2, 2018.
FAQs: Catheter-associated bloodstream infections. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/hai/pdfs/bsi/BSI_tagged.pdf. Accessed March 2, 2018.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC Last Updated: 5/11/2013