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Reducing the Risk for Catheter-Related Infections: A New Strategy

Michele L. Pearson, MD; and Elias Abrutyn, MD
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Atlanta, GA 30333 Allegheny University of the Health Sciences; Philadelphia, PA 19102 Requests for Reprints: Michele L. Pearson, MD, Hospital Infections Program, Mailstop E-69, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30333. Current Author Addresses: Dr. Pearson: Hospital Infections Program, Mailstop E-69, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30333.

Copyright ©2004 by the American College of Physicians

Ann Intern Med. 1997;127(4):304-306. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-127-4-199708150-00009
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Intravascular catheters are integral to the practice of modern medicine. These devices are used to deliver life-sustaining fluids, such as antimicrobial agents, parenteral nutrition, and blood or blood products, and to monitor the hemodynamic status of critically ill patients. However, a potentially life-threatening complication-infection, particularly bloodstream infection-is associated with the use of intravascular catheters. Several types of catheters are available for clinical use, including short peripheral catheters, midline catheters, peripherally inserted central venous catheters, nontunneled central venous catheters used for the short term, and tunneled central venous catheters used for the long term (for example, Hickman and port catheters). The various types of catheters differ in their associated risk for infection. For example, central venous catheters account for an estimated 90% of all nosocomial bloodstream infections [1], and multilumen central venous catheters have been associated with a higher risk for infection than have single-lumen central venous catheters [25].

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