A central line is a tube placed in a large vein in the neck or chest used to provide necessary medical treatment, such as medications or fluids. A central line is usually put in in a hospital setting by a trained medical professional. If the central line is put in incorrectly or is not clean, a serious or fatal blood infection may result.
Up to 1 in 4 people who develop a blood infection from having a central line die. The good news is that central line bloodstream infections are largely preventable with proper techniques and precautions (central line bloodstream infections in intensive care units in hospitals have been reduced by 58% since 2001).
Central lines are commonly used for long-term kidney dialysis patients (8 out of 10 dialysis patients). In the outpatient dialysis setting, there were approximately 37,000 bloodstream infections in people with central lines during 2008 (about 350,000 people receive dialysis at any given time). In fact, a dialysis patient is 100 more times likely to get a bloodstream infection due to an antibiotic-resistant staph infection known as MRSA than people who are not receiving dialysis. Infections are one of the leading causes of hospitalization and death for patients receiving dialysis.
Central line bloodstream infections can be reduced or prevented by doctors and nurses following recommended infection control guidelines every time a central line is put in, maintained, and removed, and by removing central lines as soon as they are no longer necessary. Patients with central lines can reduce their risk by making sure all of their health care providers wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water or appropriate alcohol-based hand cleaners before and after receiving care. If the area around the central line becomes sore or red, or if the bandage becomes wet or dirty or falls off, notify your nurse or doctor at once.
For further information read this article by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).)
For injuries resulting from central line bloodstream infections or other infections, visit our website to be placed in contact with a medical malpractice lawyer in your area to investigate your claim or call us toll free 800-295-3959.