When you go into the hospital for any procedure, there is always the danger of coming out of it with an infection. As hard as they try, the hospitals, even with all of the work they put into preventing infection, still have many cases where patients receive an infection. One of the most dangerous of these is an infection of the bloodstream via central lines that deliver nutrition, medicine, and fluid intravenously. The infection occurs when bacteria goes down the line and into the patient. The central line is a catheter tube that goes into one of the larger veins in the body – one in the arm, chest, groin, or neck in most cases.
Central Line Infections are Common
According to Consumer Reports, nearly 1.7 million of these infections happen each year in the United States. They are responsible for fifteen percent of the hospital related infections, but they account for thirty percent of the deaths from hospital infections. Those who survive the central line infection still have to go through many treatments as well as painful side effects for months after.
In the same piece from Consumer Reports, they mention that in 2008, an RN from Nashville, Tennessee developed an infection in the bloodstream after having surgery for her stomach cancer. The infection landed her in the intensive care unit for several weeks and had more than a year on antibiotics to treat the infection.
Some hospitals are starting to use checklists for safety and sanitary procedures regarding central lines and their other processes. Dr. James Gordon, of Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital, believes that most central line infections are avoidable when using and adhering to the checklists. However, they are still not foolproof. They are only as worthy as the people following the checklist. Some caregivers and medical professionals rush and do not follow their checklists, which is what leads to an infection.
Risks of Developing a Central Line Infection
Some people may have a higher chance of developing an infection. They can include patients who are in the ICU, as well as those who have weakened immune systems. The length of time a line is in also influences the chance of getting an infection, especially those with lines in the neck or groin.
Signs of Infection
Some of the signs of a central line infection include swelling and warmth at the catheter site. Green or yellow drainage, pain, fever, and redness or red streaks at the site are other signs. Patients, their loved ones, and caregivers should make sure there is not an issue with the catheter insertion site, and that there are no signs of infection each day the catheter is in. The World Health Organization’s research shows that there could be up to 62,000 annual deaths related to bloodstream infections annually.
Patients with a Bloodstream Infection
In 2010, a woman who was at Winchester Medical Center in Virginia filed a lawsuit against nurses working at the facility, who she claims introduced a bloodstream infection to her through an IV that contained bacteria. She went through a number of treatments and medical procedures to deal with the aftermath of the infection.
Patients who suffer from a blood stream or central line infection may want to consider talking with an attorney about whether they have a case against the healthcare provider.