The number of bloodstream infections in intensive care units (ICUs) caused by tubes inserted into major blood vessels decreased significantly between 2001 to 2009, but unacceptably high rates of infection are still occurring for patients in other hospital units and for dialysis patients, government researchers say.
Central lines are tubes that are usually placed in the large veins of the neck or chest to deliver medicines and nutrition. Infections of these lines, which are largely preventable, can become serious problems, with death rates of 12-25%.
An estimated 18,000 ICU central-line infections were recorded in 2009, down from 43,000 in 2001, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This 58% decrease means that in 2009, between 3,000 and 6,000 deaths were prevented and as much as $414 million saved. And if the decrease in these ICU infections was steady from 2001 to 2009, as many as 27,000 lives and as much as $1.8 billion may have been saved.