Due to their size and location, CVCs confer a much greater risk for bloodstream infection (BSI) than simple peripheral intravenous lines. When a BSI occurs in a critically ill patient, the additional costs and the risk of death can be extraordinary.
In most cases, episodes of catheter-related bacteremia cannot be traced back to one specific cause. Rather, these infections are viewed as resulting from the cumulative exposure to a series of known potential risk factors. These risk factors can be categorized according to the two phases of catheter care: insertion and daily management. This tutorial will discuss the most important of these risk factors, with a special emphasis on ways that providers can minimize the risks inherent to the insertion phase
This website is intended for nurses and physicians working at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Although individual facilities may differ, the topics outlined in this tutorial are universal and apply to most general critical care settings. Whenever possible, the guidelines in this tutorial are supported by expert recommendations in the published literature. Of course, providers will ultimately need to make treatment decisions based on their own clinical judgment and individual patient characteristics.
BSI = bloodstream infection
CVC = central venous catheter
ICU = intensive care unit
PICC = peripherally inserted central catheter