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Central line associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI) (CMS)

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?

The central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI) score is shown as a Standardized Infection ratio (SIR). This ratio is found by comparing the number of central line infections in patients in Northwestern Medicine’s intensive care units to a national benchmark.

For this measure, a lower number is better.