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When a child is sick, it is sometimes necessary for them to have a central line — a small intravenous (IV) catheter placed in one of the larger blood vessels of the body. While central lines deliver important medications, nutrients, and fluids to patients to help them recover from their illness, they do have some risks including central line-associated blood stream infections (CLABSI).

Reducing harm caused by CLABSI is an important aspect of increasing patient safety at all hospitals. In order to reduce CLABSI, we use several strategies before and after a central line is inserted. We also record when a central line-associated blood stream infection occurs to learn how we can improve our care systems and avoid these events in the future.

How are we doing?

For patients admitted to the hospital, we track the number of blood stream infections associated with the use of a central line. Tracking the number of CLABSI in this way helps us measure the effectiveness of our efforts to reduce CLABSI.

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As you can see in the graph, we consistently have low frequency of CLABSI. Our goal, however, is to further reduce, or even eliminate, CLABSI among our patients.

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What are we doing to improve?

We track CLABSI that occur in the hospital, and these data are reviewed by our Infection Prevention and Control team, along with other doctors, nurses, and administrators who recommend and implement changes to prevent similar events from occurring again. The strategies to prevent CLABSI during line insertion include hand hygiene, cleaning the insertion site with a skin antiseptic, using standard supplies and procedures for central line insertion, having the providers who insert the lines wear sterile protective attire, and insertion training. Strategies to prevent CLABSI after the line is inserted include daily discussion of line necessity, regular dressing changes, and standardized procedures for accessing and handling central lines. Rounding is done to ensure compliance with these strategies, and family representatives are part of our subject matter expert team to help us identify ways to continuously improve.

How do we collaborate with other hospitals to improve patient safety?

We submit our CLABSI data monthly to the Children's Hospitals' Solutions for Patient Safety (SPS) national collaborative. More than 100 hospitals from around the United States participate in this network that tracks hospital-acquired conditions to share best practices regarding patient safety. The goal is not to compare performance, but to learn from each other and reduce serious harm across all hospitals.

* — Comparative Rate: SPS Network Aggregate Rate