Catheter-Related Bloodstream Infections to be Focus of AVA Meeting

HERRIMAN, Utah -- Improvements in the prevention of catheter-related infections will be a prime focus at the annual conference of the Association for Vascular Access (AVA) in September.

The conference comes on the eve of major changes in Medicare that will eliminate payments to hospitals that fail to prevent certain hospital-acquired infections. AVA will hold its 22nd Annual Scientific Meeting Sept. 11-14 in Savannah, Ga. AVA is the nation’s leading organization dedicated to the emerging medical field of vascular access.

Among conference presentations on preventing vascular catheter-related infections:

-- Allan Morrison, Jr., MD, will describe the vision of an infection control program that can improve clinical outcomes and decrease infection rates, high-risk antibiotic use, hospital lengths of stay, and mortality. Morrison is hospital epidemiologist of the Inova Health System, Professor and Distinguished Senior Fellow at George Mason University’s Graduate School of Public Policy, and assistant clinical professor at Georgetown University School of Medicine.

-- Another general session presentation will concern the infection danger associated with long-term central vein catheters. The presenters, Stephen Ash, MD, FACP, and Deb Richardson, RN, MS, CNS, will review current data about the effect of catheter locks or coatings on the infection rates. The speakers will also examine the potential for these technologies to significantly reduce catheter-related infections in the future. Ash is chairman and director of Research at HemoCleanse and Ash Access Technology. Richardson heads Deb Richardson & Associates.

-- A poster presentation by Kari Love, RN, BS, will show how use of a closed luer access, split-septum device has eliminated catheter-related bloodstream infections for eight months in an adult medical-ICU population. The device replaced a positive-pressure mechanical valve. Love is a clinician at Jennie Edmundson Memorial Hospital in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

-- An interactive panel and audience discussion, featuring vascular access and infection control experts and titled “Building a Better Bundle,” will be aimed at devising a maximally effective vascular access bundle using evidence-based products and practices.

“Our conference will spotlight the latest trends and changing landscape in vascular access,” said AVA’s CEO Kathy McHugh, RN, BSN. “Infections that once were seen as inevitable are now seen as entirely preventable, and this is triggering enormous consequences for institutions with high infection rates. Those consequences include everything from costly lawsuits to lost reimbursements from payers, to patients shifting their patronage to hospitals that do the best job of prevention. Our conference’s focus on these issues – including exciting news about how to completely eliminate many infections – comes at a crucial time in the vascular access field.”

Vascular catheter-related infections are the subject of increasing public attention on several fronts:

-- Starting next month, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will cease reimbursing hospitals for certain hospital-associated conditions. These conditions include vascular catheter-related infections. Many private insurers are also cutting reimbursements for these infections.

-- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates the rate of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), including vascular catheter-related infections, to be 5 percent to 19 percent of all hospital inpatient stays. A total of 2 million patients per year contract HAIs, and more than 90,000 of them die.

-- To date, 24 states – including New York, Illinois, Florida, New Jersey, and Ohio – have passed laws requiring that hospitals in their state disclose their rate of HAIs. Several more states are considering similar action.

-- Because they are now viewed as preventable, HAIs are expected to lead to a massive wave of class-action lawsuits.

McHugh will also be presenting at the conference. Her talk, “Business Strategies for Vascular Access Services,” makes the financial case for healthcare institutions contracting with outside vascular access services. The talk is designed to aid AVA members in marketing services to administrative leaders of their institutions as a strategy to eliminate CRBSI and other complications.

In addition to its focus of vascular catheter-related infections, the AVA conference will explore the increased use of ultrasound guidance in vascular access and will offer a certification program in ultrasound usage.

This year’s AVA conference will also feature the first annual Wise Foundation Gala, to raise funds for the foundation. AVA launched the Wise Foundation for Vascular Access Education & Research in 2008, to help fund vascular access education and research.

An AVA webinar called “Building a Better Bundle,” originally held Aug. 13, is archived on the AVA Web site and available for free. The Webinar demonstrates that it is possible to sharply reduce or eliminate CRBSI by adding evidence-based practices and technologies to central line bundles developed by clinical organizations such as IHI. A link to the Webinar can be found on the homepage at

Source: Association for Vascular Access