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Catheter sepsis

Created: 22/3/2005

Organisms grow in biofilms on the surface of catheters and may cause local erythema and pus at the insertion site, distant infective emboli or sepsis. Estimations of incidence are approximately 25% colonisation of line and 5% infection due to line sepsis.

Risk factors

Site: Subclavian lines are associated with the lowest incidence of infection. Femoral lines have the highest.

Age: Higher incidence at extremes of age.

Immunodeficiency: Line sepsis is common in this patient group.

Severity of underlying illness

The severity of underlying sepsis or immunodeficiency of the patient will clearly put the patient at greater risk of developing catheter sepsis.

Level of sterility during insertion of line.

 Please click here to view the Center for Disease Control and Prevention report on guidelines for the prevention of intravascular catheter-related infections (USA).

 Click here to view an executive summary of the EPIC guidelines. (Department of Health commissioned evidence-based guidelines for prevention of healthcare associated infections (UK).

Nursing of catheter

Daily inspection of insertion sites and regular changing of sterile dressings reduce infection rates.

 Please click here for nursing guidelines.

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