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Central line associated blood stream infection (CLABSI) in the adult Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit

Why is this measure important?

Vascular catheters (also called central lines) are thin, flexible plastic tubes that are inserted into patients’ veins for the purpose of taking blood or giving IV fluids and medications. Infections from vascular catheters can occur in the skin (at the site where the catheter was inserted) or in the bloodstream.

If central lines are not correctly inserted or kept clean, they can allow germs to enter the body and cause serious blood infections. These central line-associated blood infections (CLABSIs) can cause serious problems and even death.

Hospital staff members can prevent most CLABSIs by following the infection control guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These include guidelines for inserting the central line, for keeping the insertion site clean, and for removing the central line as soon as it is not needed. Hospitals following these safety guidelines will likely have low numbers of vascular catheter-related bloodstream infections.

What does this measure show?

This measure tracks the rate of central line-associated bloodstream infections of patients in the Cardiothoracic Surgical Intensive Care Unit.

The central line-associated blood stream infection rate for this measure is expressed as Observed to Expected (OE) Ratio, which is the observed (actual) rate of bloodstream infections compared to the expected rate of bloodstream infections. The OE Ratio for CLABSI is also commonly referred to as the Standardized Infection Ratio.

A value of 1.0 means that the rate of bloodstream infection is exactly as expected. A rate higher than 1.0 means that the rate is higher (worse) than expected, and a rate below 1.0 means that the rate is lower (better) than expected.

Northwestern Memorial's performance in this measure is placed into one of three categories based on the results of a statistical analysis that compares our performance to the performance ratio of other hospitals. These categories are:

  • Statistically significantly better than the national average, or performing at the best possible rate.
  • Not statistically significantly better or worse than the national average.
  • Statistically significantly worse than the national average.

Based on the statistical analysis, our most recent ratio is within a range of ratios that is considered to be "Not statistically significantly better than the national average."

In this case a lower number is better.