Central Line-Associated Bloodstream Infections (CLABSI)

A central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI) occurs when microorganisms (germs) enter the bloodstream through a central line catheter.

Central lines (or central venous catheters) are inserted into a major vein and left in place so that medications can be given, or blood drawn without having to put a needle through the skin every time. Central lines are commonly used in intensive care units or when patients need to receive intravenous (IV) medications, blood, fluid replacement or nutrition for an extended period.

Some patients may need a central line for long-term treatment, even after discharge.

CLABSIs can be prevented by following recommended infection control practices when inserting and taking care of the line.

Recommended central line insertion practices include:

  • Hand hygiene
  • Appropriate skin antisepsis
  • Maximal sterile barrier precautions
  • Aseptic technique
  • Using a checklist to ensure all steps are followed

Recommended central line maintenance practices include:

  • Hand hygiene before and after touching the line or the line dressing.
  • Aseptic technique when changing line dressings.
  • Removing a central line as soon as it is no longer needed. The sooner a catheter is removed, the lower the chance of infection.

Information for Patients

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