Catheters, Other Devices Raise Infection Risk

But new technologies may help safeguard patients, researchers say

FRIDAY, Sept. 29, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- All types of catheters and other devices that allow access to the bloodstream can potentially be a source of infection, researchers report.

These "intravascular devices" (IVDs) have become the leading cause of bloodstream infections in the United States and worldwide.

"We thought this analysis might provide a unique opportunity to wave the flag and convince both health care workers and patients that all types of IVDs pose a risk," lead author Dr. Dennis Maki, a researcher and infectious disease and critical care specialist at the University of Wisconsin Hospital, Madison, said in a prepared statement.

"Clinicians and quality assurance experts need to understand that these risks are significant and are often greater than they might think," Maki said.

His team reviewed the collected data on the subject from over 200 studies and found that no one device was infection-proof.

In the United States, as many as 500,000 IVD-related bloodstream infections occur each year, resulting in increased patient health problems and prolonged hospital stays.

Expanded use of guidelines to prevent IVD-related bloodstream infections can help reduce the incidence, Maki and his colleagues said. However, new technology appears to be the best way to tackle the problem.

"Technology holds far more promise for reducing risk than behavioral modification. We believe that it holds the greatest promise. In our paper, we point out a number of IVD technologies that have been proven to be effective but, as yet, inexplicably, aren't widely used," Maki said.

He also suggested that patients receiving an IVD insertion should ask their health care providers what measures are being taken to reduce the risk of bloodstream infection.

The report was published in the September issue of the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about intravascular catheter-related bloodstream infections.

Robert Preidt

Robert Preidt

Updated on September 29, 2006

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