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healthcare-associated infections (HAI) program

Central Line-associated Bloodstream Infection (CLABSI)

What is a CLABSI? ?

CLABSI is a primary laboratory confirmed bloodstream infection in a patient with a central line at the time of (or within 48-hours prior to) the onset of symptoms and the infection is not related to an infection from another site.

If you have a central line how would you know if you have a CLABSI?

If you develop a central line-associated bloodstream infection you may become ill with fevers and chills or the skin around the catheter may become sore and red. A positive blood culture with signs and symptoms of infection are evidence of a bloodstream infection. When a bloodstream infection occurs and there is no other place where that infection could be coming from, then the infection is associated with the central line. It is still possible that the infection could be coming from another place but that source is hidden.

What are hospitals doing to prevent CLABSIs?

CLABSIs can be prevented through following proper precautions at the time the line is inserted (central line insertion practices), care of the line while it is in place (central line maintenance practices), and removal of the line as soon as it is no longer necessary. California hospitals are required to report their adherence to these practices in intensive care units. A report on central line insertion practices (CLIP) is available at the Annual HAI Report Page.

What CLABSI information is reported to the California Department of Public Health and where can I find that information?

All California general acute care hospitals are required to report CLABSI cases that occur following hospitalization so that CDPH can calculate the rates of infection at each hospital and make that information available to the public (Health and Safety Code Section 1288.55). The latest California hospitals CLABSI report is available at the Annual HAI Report Page. Comparison of the rates of CLABSI in different hospitals in this report should be avoided because differences may be due to variations in surveillance practices and/or infection risk.

How patients and their advocates can help prevent infections

Team up with your medical providers to prevent CLABSI during insertion

  • Ask your provider to choose a vein where the catheter can be safely inserted and where the risk for infection is minimal
  • Ask your provider if they washed their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub before putting in the catheter
  • Ask your provider to wear a mask, cap, sterile gown, and sterile gloves while putting in the catheter, drawing blood, or giving medication
  • Ask your provider to clean your skin with an antiseptic cleanser before putting in the catheter

Team up with your medical providers to prevent CLABSI after insertion

  • Ask your providers to clean their hands, wear gloves, and clean the catheter opening with an antiseptic solution before using the catheter to draw blood or give medications
  • Ask your providers to also clean their hands and wear gloves when changing the bandage that covers the area where the catheter enters the skin 
  • Remember to always ask your provider if you still need to have a catheter. The catheter should be removed as soon as it is no longer needed

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