Central Line-Associated Bloodstream Infections

(CLABSI)

Definition

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.
Chemotherapy Through the Bloodstream
Chemotherapy
A central line catheter can be used to deliver chemotherapy.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
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.

Causes

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.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of a CLABSI:
  • Having a catheter for a long time
  • Having a catheter that is not coated with an antimicrobial—a substance that kills bacteria
  • Having a catheter inserted into a vein in the thigh
  • Having a weakened immune system
  • Being in the intensive care unit
  • Having an infection elsewhere in the body or skin

Symptoms

CLABSI may cause:
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Fast heart rate
  • Redness, swelling, or tenderness at the catheter site
  • Drainage from catheter site

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