As we mentioned in a blog post earlier this week, hospital infections are
a continuing risk to patient safety, claiming 90,000 lives a year. As
San Diego medical malpractice attorneys, the most frustrating aspect of
these deadly infections is that most are preventable.
In fact, according to a study published online last month in
Pediatrics, a few simple safety precautions for handling central-line catheters in
pediatric intensive care units saved more than a hundred children’s
lives and millions of dollars.
Each year, 250,000 central-line infections occur in U.S. hospitals, and
about 30,000 people die from them, research suggests. Moreover, each infection
carries a price tag of up to $45,000.
Children in intensive care units often have a central line—a tube
inserted into a major blood vessel in the neck, chest, or groin to serve
as portal for medication or fluids—for weeks or months. Inserted
incorrectly or mishandled after insertion, the line can become a gateway
for bacteria into the patient’s bloodstream. Because doctors and
nurses handle the catheter multiple times each day, proper handling is critical.
According to the study, hospitals that followed the following measures
cut the number of infections by 56 percent over three years:
- Basic precautions, such as daily assessment of the continued need for a
central line and prompt removal when no longer necessary;
- Regularly changing the dressing;
- Changing the tubes and caps attached to it;
- Cleaning the line before and after each use; and
- Hand washing before handling the line can prevent infections.