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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

CLABSI report means prevention`expected'

A recently reported dramatic national reduction in central line associated blood stream infections (CLABSIs) puts a harsh spotlight on hospitals that have not adopted a “checklist” protocol and other proven measures to fight infections that are both expensive and deadly.

CLABSIs – which have mortality rates in the 12% to 25% range – were decreased by 58% in intensive care unit patients from 2001 to 2009 in national surveillance data reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The striking decrease translates to 27,000 lives spared and $1.8 billion saved in excess health care costs.

After the celebratory reactions, this is the new normal: Hospitals that have not adopted CLABSI prevention measures – particularly in ICUs -- risk being perceived in violation of a standard of care that has now been widely proven in clinical practice.

“The message from CDC and everybody in this field is that compliance with these best practices for catheter insertion should be 100%,” says Arjun Srinivasan, MD, a medical epidemiologist in the CDC's division of health care quality promotion. “Each and every time a catheter is put in it should be done in the best way. We know what that best way is and we want hospitals to do it that way.”

Srinivasan’s boss – CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH – was likewise unequivocal in a statement: “Preventing bloodstream infections is not only possible,” he says. “It should be expected.”