One of the most dangerous threats to patient safety – hospital-acquired bloodstream infections – takes center stage in an updated set of guidelines released this week from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The report, which updates a 2002 version of standards, focuses on education and training, precautions and other tactics aimed at saving patients’ lives and avoiding unnecessary medical costs.
According to the report, "Guidelines for the Prevention of Intravascular Catheter-Related Infections,” 250,000 cases of bloodstream infections occur every year, resulting in untold costs.
"To improve patient outcome and to reduce healthcare costs, there is considerable interest by healthcare providers, insurers, regulators, and patient advocates in reducing the incidence of these infections,” states the report. The updated guidelines focus on dozens of areas that healthcare personnel and patient advocates can move the needle from theory to practice.
"Catheter-related bloodstream infections—like many infections in health care—are now seen as largely preventable,” said lead author Dr. Naomi O'Grady, a medical director at the NIH Clinical Center CCMD. "Implementation of these critical infection control guidelines is an important benchmark of health care quality and patient safety.”
The following are examples of best practices from the new guidelines:
- Education, Training and Staffing. This area calls for intensive training, periodic updates to procedure, a designated staff for the procedure, and the need for appropriate nursing staff levels in intensive care units (ICUs).
- Selection of Catheters and Sites. The report pinpoints the most appropriate areas for healthcare personnel to administer a catheter in both children and adults. For instance, the report recommends that personnel "use an upper-extremity site for catheter insertion” in adults. The list is broken up into peripheral and midline catheters and central venous catheters.
- Hand Hygiene. Always an important, if seemingly basic, area, hand hygiene techniques cover the best practices in maintaining a sterile environment.
- Skin Preparation. Correct antiseptic use is essential, and it can vary based on a manufacturer’s guidelines or on the age of the patient.
The report includes a breakdown on dozens of other crucial areas, from dressing regimens to securement devices. While some areas get somewhat clinical, the report arrives as a vital part of the patient advocate’s toolbox.