Many health-care providers don’t follow guidelines meant to reduce the risk of infection from catheters placed in the arteries of intensive care unit patients, a new study finds.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says health-care providers should wear sterile gloves, a surgical cap and mask, and use a small sterile drape when inserting catheters into patients’ arteries.
But a Rhode Island Hospital survey of more than 1,200 health-care providers found that only 44 percent followed the CDC recommendations during insertion. And only 15 percent used “full barrier precautions.” The participants’ responses were anonymous.
“Barrier precautions are employed inconsistently by critical care clinicians across the nation, and such individuals underestimate the infection risks posed by arterial catheters,” study co-author Dr. Leonard Mermel, medical director of the hospital’s epidemiology and infection control department, said in a Lifespan Health System news release.
“Every effort should be made to prevent such infections since they lead to increased cost, length of stay and [death],” he added.
Almost 8 million arterial catheters are placed in patients in U.S. hospitals every year, the researchers said. These types of catheters can cause bloodstream infections.
The study was published recently in the journal Critical Care Medicine.
An arterial catheter is a thin, hollow tube placed into an artery (large blood vessel) in the wrist, groin or other location to measure
blood pressure, oxygen or carbon dioxide levels, according to the American Thoracic Society.
Study corresponding author Dr. Andrew Levinson said arterial catheterization is a commonly performed procedure in critically ill patients.
“Bloodstream infections are largely preventable, and if the survey results mirror the clinical practice in the U.S., there’s work to be done in reducing risk of such infections,” he concluded.
The American Thoracic Society has more about arterial catheterization.