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Hospitals and central line-associated bloodstream infections – why you should be concerned

| Mar 2, 2015 | Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury |

Illinois residents enjoy excellent hospitals. Many people who live in this state trust that these facilities will always provide them with the best medical treatment. As any personal injury lawyer in Chicago would know, however, healthcare facilities sometimes fail to properly care for their patients. Alarming reports on central line-associated bloodstream infections in hospitals across the country illustrates this fact.

What is a central line-associated bloodstream infection?

Central lines are often used in medical procedures. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains that these lines are tubes, which are inserted into large veins. They are commonly used to administer fluids and medications or to draw blood. Depending on the situation, these tubes may be left in a vein for days or even weeks. Central line-associated bloodstream infections arise when bacteria enter a patient’s blood through these tubes.

CLABSIs are very serious, as any personal injury lawyer in Chicago would know. The CDC notes that in 2011, the mortality rate for these infections were between 12 and 25 percent.

Risks of infection in ICUs

In 2014, the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology noted that hospital patients have a high risk of CLABSIs. Much focus has been placed on researching the impact of these infections on patients in intensive care units. ICU patients are at high risk for CLABSIs for a number of reasons, including the following:

  • The use of multiple catheters per patient
  • The insertion of catheters in emergency situations
  • The use of catheter types that increase susceptibility to CLABSIs
  • Repeated access to the same catheter

Because of these risk factors, ICU personnel must remain vigilant about monitoring patients for any signs of infection.

The importance of hospital awareness

According to the ICHE report, there are certain factors that have been linked to CLABSIs. Many of these are within hospitals’ control and may be addressed through administrative policies and staff training. For example, sterilizing the catheter hubs may greatly reduce the potential for microbial colonies to enter a patient’s bloodstream. Also, CLABSIs may be detected early by closely monitoring patients who have been in the hospital for a long time.By addressing these issues through hospital policy and by investing in training, hospitals may greatly reduce their CLABSI instances.

CLABSI rates in Illinois

The Illinois Department of Public Health provides the public with statistics on CLABSI cases. According to this data, in 2013 there were 245 cases of these infections in adult ICUs. This was an improvement over prior years. However, there is still a great deal that hospitals may do to bring this figure down.

The rights of CLABSI victims 

Patients enter hospitals trusting that they will receive competent medical care. When this trust is violated, patients may choose to exercise their legal rights. Anyone in this position may want to discuss the situation with a personal injury lawyer in Chicago. Knowing their legal options may help these victims determine their next steps.