Winning the War on CLABSIs: The Role of Education and New Technology

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Although progress has been made in many areas, central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) remain a national healthcare problem of crisis proportions. The stakes for healthcare institutions that haven’t effectively addressed CLABSIs continue to mount. The Joint Commission, which accredits hospitals and other healthcare institutions, has made prevention of CLABSIs one of its 2009 National Patient Safety Goals. This sends a strong message to facilities under the commission’s purview to implement aggressive CLABSI minimization programs.

The financial stakes for institutions with CLABSI problems have risen, too. Acting on a directive from Congress, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has stopped reimbursing hospitals for hospital-associated conditions it considers preventable. One of the designated preventable conditions is CLABSIs. Many private insurers are taking similar steps in the wake of CMS’s action.

How can a healthcare institution avoid infections that at one time seemed intrinsic to widespread catheter use? Solutions are emerging. Education and new product technology are clearly part of the answer. New products alone accomplish little unless clinicians understand how to use them correctly. Additionally, medical personnel must be trained to adhere to basic precautions such as appropriate handwashing protocols.

An understanding of what CLABSIs are and how they occur is necessary before one can fully comprehend the importance of adhering to evidence-based technologies such as chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) on the skin and the effects that valve disinfection caps may have in reducing infection rates. Additionally, strategies are included below that have been proven effective at minimizing or eliminating CLABSIs at some institutions.

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