Central line-associated blood stream infections a risk for Iowa patients

Germs entering the blood stream through central lines could result in serious infections, which may cause worsened medical conditions or death for patients.

People in West Des Moines, and throughout Iowa, frequently require medical treatment. This may be to provide emergency medical care, to treat acute medical ailments or to monitor ongoing health conditions. Few patients expect that they will develop worsened or life-threatening conditions due to medical negligence when they go in for such treatment. All too often, however, central line-associated blood stream infections, and other conditions, occur as a result of doctor, nurse or emergency room errors.

Also known as CLASBIs, central line-associated blood stream infections are a serious problem in all types of health care facilities. According to John Hopkins Medicine, between 500 and 4,000 people die each year across the U.S. due to this type of infection. Often, patients develop CLASBIs in addition to the other medical conditions for which they are receiving treatment.

What are CLASBIs?

Some types of treatments require patients to have central venous catheters, or central lines, inserted. Much like IV catheters, these types of lines are typically used to draw blood, as well as to give patients fluids or medications. They may be placed in the chest, arm, neck or groin.

A type of serious infection, CLASBIS may develop if viruses or bacteria enter the bloodstream through central lines. When patients develop these infections, they may become very ill, in addition to experiencing chills and fevers. A CLASBI may cause the area around a patient's catheter insertion site to become red and sore. For those who are already suffering from a serious medical condition or illness, this type of infection can be significantly more hazardous.

How can medical professionals prevent CLASBIs?

In general, CLASBIs develop due to substandard care. Therefore, they are typically considered entirely preventable. As such, there are a number of precautions that health care providers can take in order to prevent their patients from developing CLASBIs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some of the most important safety measures for medical professionals include the following:

  • Practice good hand hygiene
  • Use sterile barrier safeguards
  • Keep the insertion site and central line dry
  • Wait until the skin prep agent is completely dry to insert central lines

Furthermore, central lines should be immediately removed once they are no longer needed. By following these precautions, and other central line maintenance protocols, medical professionals can help prevent their patients from developing this type of potentially life-threatening condition.

How can patients avoid developing CLASBIs?

There are also steps that patients can take to help protect themselves from CLASBIs. According to the CDC, it can be important for people to avoid touching their tubing, or allowing visitors to touch it. Furthermore, they should pay attention to their bandages. Patients should notify their health care providers right away if the bandaging, or area around the insertion site, becomes dirty or wet. Additionally, patients should immediately tell their medical providers if they have chills or a fever, or if the area around the catheter insertion site becomes red or sore.

Seeking legal counsel

Contracting a CLASBI can lead to added or worsened medical conditions for patients in Iowa, which may extend their recovery times. As such, they may incur undue medical expenses and lose income while they are off of work. Since these types of infections can be prevented with proper care and protocols, patients' health care providers may be held liable for them developing CLASBIs. Working with an attorney may help those who have experienced this type of situation to understand their rights and options for seeking compensation.