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Central Line Infection

When a patient requires long-term access to medication or fluids through an IV, a central line is put in place. A central line associated blood stream infection (CLI-BSI) occurs when a pathogen enters the blood stream through the central lines. 

All hospitals with Critical Care Units are required to report into the Critical Care Information System (CCIS) – a centralized data collection system where hospitals report a variety of information. This information is used to calculate the CLI rate data that must be publicly reported.

Below is the quarterly break down of Central Line Infection cases at Woodstock Hospital in 2017 and 2018.

QuarterFiscal year 2017 RateFiscal year 2018 Rate

Q1 April - June



Q2 July - September



Q3 October - December



Q4 January - March


Anyone who has a central line can get an infection. The risk is higher if you:

  • Are in the intensive care unit (ICU)
  • Have a serious underlying illness or debilitation
  • Are receiving bone marrow or chemotherapy
  • Have the line in for an extended time

Symptoms of CLI can be:

  • Redness, pain or swelling at or near the catheter site
  • Pain or tenderness along the path of the catheter
  • Drainage from the skin around the catheter
  • Sudden fever or chills

Patients can reduce the chance of infection by following instructions given to them by their healthcare team. Appropriate hand hygiene practice is another way to prevent the spread of infection.

  • Ask lots of questions. Find out why you need the line and where it will be placed. Learn what steps the hospital is taking to reduce the danger of infection
  • Wash your own hands often. Use soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub containing at least 60 per cent alcohol.
  • Try not to touch your line or dressing.

Health care providers should take the following precautions to prevent CLI:

  • Practice proper handwashing techniques. Everyone who touches the central line must wash their hands with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wear sterile clothing – a mask, gloves and hair covering – when putting in the line. The patient should be covered with a sterile drape with a small hole where the line goes in.
  • Clean the patient’s skin with “chlorhexidine” (a type of soap) when the line is put in.
  • Choose the most appropriate vein to insert the line.
  • Check the line every day for infection.
  • Replace the line as needed and not on a schedule.
  • Remove the line as soon as it is no longer needed.

CLI treatment depends on the type of catheter, the severity of the infection and the patient’s overall health. Generally, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to fight the infection and the central line may need to be removed. In some cases, the line is flushed with high doses of antibiotics to kill the germs causing the infection so that the line does not have to be removed.

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