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Changing Part of Central Line Could Reduce Hospital Infections

$1 connector saves lives and money (September 10)

Simply replacing the connector in the intravenous (IV) system in patients with central lines could help reduce deadly bloodstream infections, researchers at Georgia Regents University have found.

A connector sits at the top of a central line or catheter and serves as the entry point for the fluid pathway inside — any fluid that goes in or comes out of the body, goes through the connector.

Most connectors use positive or negative pressure — either pushing fluid out or drawing blood in — when catheters are disconnected for flushing and cleaning. Ironically, it’s during that process — designed to clean the catheter and ultimately to reduce the chance of infection — that germs find their way into the bloodstream, causing an often dangerous blood infection.

Researchers analyzed data from six acute-care settings in five states and found that the number of infections decreased by 60% when positive connectors were replaced with zero fluid-displacement connectors, and by 94% when negative connectors were replaced with the zero connectors for central-line IV therapy. Zero fluid-displacement connectors cause no reflux of fluids — out or in — during disconnection and connection.

“We estimate that replacing the connector devices saved about 13 lives in the acute-care settings in this study,” said corresponding author Dr. Cynthia Chernecky. In addition to saving lives, more than $3 million was saved on health care costs. The average central line-associated bloodstream infection costs about $35,000 to treat.

Zero connectors cost about $1 apiece, Chernecky said. “This is a very cost-effective way to increase patient safety.”

Source: Georgia Regents University; September 10, 2013.

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