Catheter Creatures

The vast majority of hospitalized patients will receive some form of I.V. therapy that the insertion of a tube, also known as a catheter, directly into the bloodstream.  Attached to the end of the catheter is typically found a needleless valve. This catheter and needleless valve combination provides a readily available route for drawing blood or delivering fluids or medications into the bloodstream. Unfortunately, improved access also creates a direct pathway for microorganisms to enter the body and to potentially create a bloodstream infection, or BSI. The scope of this problem is massive. More than 360 million I.V. catheters are used in the US each year and roughly 20% of patients who get a BSI will die. While most BSI reduction efforts are focused on a specific type of catheter known as a central line, all catheters carry the risk of bloodstream infection. The infographic below provides a quick summary of the common organisms that invade catheters through the needleless valves and the measures that can prevent contamination.


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