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Drop in Central-Line Infection Rates Linked to Disinfection Caps

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, January 4, 2013

Clinicians at NorthShore University HealthSystem's three hospitals near Chicago have found a method of reducing bloodstream infections by half.

Using a tiny alcohol-impregnated cap on central line hubs prevented four CLABSI deaths and prevented 21 patients from infections, they calculated during the study year, a result sustained with proven cost-effectiveness during the 18 months following their experiment.

The cap method differs from the traditional 15-second "scrub the hub" practice.

"Our trial demonstrates with evidence for the first time that these caps actually work, and we did so in a very convincing study," explains Marc-Oliver Wright, director of Infection Control for the 975-bed, NorthShore University HealthSystem in Evanston, IL.

Today, "most hospitals use these [needle-free] connectors, which were developed to prevent needlestick injuries," he says. "But the problem with these is how they're designed. They have these grooves where bacteria can just sit there and fester. And if you don't get it out by scrubbing, really, really well, then that's just an easy access port for bacteria to crawl inside that catheter hub and work its way down the line into the catheter and the patient's bloodstream."

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