Central Venous Line Bloodstream Infections

Published On 07/11/2011

A central venous line (CVL) is a long, soft plastic tube, called a catheter, which is placed into a large vein in the neck, chest or groin. It is used to deliver medication or fluids or obtain blood tests for patients in our Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU) and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

While the central venous line is an important tool used in caring for our critical care patients, one potential complication is a bloodstream infection. This is a serious infection that develops when bacteria from outside the body enter the line.

Why central lines matter

We take precautions to decrease the risk that our patients get a blood stream infection (BSI) while in the hospital. Patients whose bloodstreams become infected may get sicker and have to stay in the hospital longer to receive treatment for the infection. While some patients have higher risks than others, most of these infections are preventable.

How we measure

We measure central line infections based on a national standard: the number of infections divided by the number of days patients have central lines. That number is then multiplied by 1,000 to get the number of infections per 1,000 line days.

  • PICU: 0.95 infections per 1,000 line days
  • CVICU: 1.90 infections per 1,000 line days
  • NICU: 1.52 infections per 1,000 line days
  • NSICU: 0 infections per 1,000 line days


2016 CentralLineInf CV ICU2016 CentralLineInf PICU

2016 CentralLineInf NICU

2016 CentralLineInf NS ICU

How we’re getting better

We follow recommended standards from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Child Health Corporation of America (CHCA). for preventing infections during the insertion of the line as well as for maintenance.We’ve joined a group of other children’s hospitals from across the nation to share ideas and procedures and work together to lower infections across the country.