Central line associated blood stream infection (CLABSI) in the Medical Intensive Care Unit

A central line or central venous catheter is a catheter (tube) that is passed through a vein that ends near the right atrium of the heart. Central lines are used to deliver medications and fluids to patients and to withdraw blood.

Infections are a risk in any hospitalization. When patients have central venous catheters, they are at higher risk for serious infections, especially if bacteria get into the bloodstream. It is important to take careful precautions to avoid introducing harmful bacteria into patients’ systems. Bloodstream infections are serious and can cause a patient to stay in the hospital for a longer time and can increase the risk of death. While not all central-line infections are preventable, our goal is to avoid preventable infections completely.

Inserting and monitoring central venous catheters using research-based techniques can decrease or eliminate the number of central-line associated bloodstream infections. Health care providers follow specific guidelines for insertion, such as using a sterile barrier, proper hand hygiene, chlorhexidine for skin disinfection, and avoidance of the femoral (groin) insertion site. Once the central line has been inserted, it is important for health care providers to monitor the insertion site, use recommended sterile techniques, and remove catheters when they are no longer needed.

About this measure

This measure tracks the rate of central line-associated bloodstream infections of patients in the Medical Intensive Care Unit.  During the reporting period, calendar year 2011, Northwestern Memorial's performance is not statistically significantly better or worse than the national average.

The central line-associated blood stream infection rate for this measure is expressed as Observed to Expected (OE) Ratio, which is the observed (actual) rate of bloodstream infections compared to the expected rate of bloodstream infections. The OE Ratio for CLABSI is also commonly referred to as the Standardized Infection Ratio.

A value of 1.0 means that the rate of bloodstream infection is exactly as expected. A rate higher than 1.0 means that the rate is higher (worse) than expected, and a rate below 1.0 means that the rate is lower (better) than expected.    

Note:  Because this is the first reporting period for this measure, we are not able to provide a graph with trend data. 

In this case a lower number is better.  

Most Recent Available Data (Observed to Expected Ratio)
Northwestern Memorial 0.93
National Average 1
Performance Trend (Observed to Expected Ratio)
  2010 2011 2012
Northwestern Memorial 0.19 0.72 0.93
National Average 1 1 1
Source:Illinois Department of Public Health
Rate of central line blood stream infections in the Medical Intensive Care Unit