Alcohol-impregnated disinfection cap reduces central line infections
9 January 2012
Central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI)
dropped by 52%when an alcohol-impregnated disinfection cap was used
instead of standard scrubbing protocol, according to a new study
published in the January issue of the American Journal of Infection
A team of researchers from NorthShore University HealthSystem
conducted a study of adult patients in order to determine the
efficacy of 70% alcohol-impregnated disinfection caps over the
standard cleaning protocol, which involves scrubbing the catheter
hub with an alcohol disinfectant wipe prior to accessing the lines.
In a three-phased study, contamination rates among 799 patients
sampled from three hospitals declined from a baseline of 12.7% using
the standard cleaning protocol, to 5.5% when the disinfection cap
was used, and increased back to 12% when the intervention was
removed and standard protocol was reinstated. Infection rates at
four hospitals declined from a baseline of 1.43 per 1,000 line days
to 0.69 during the intervention, and returned to 1.31 per 1,000 line
days when the intervention was suspended.
The researchers estimated that system-wide implementation of the
disinfecting caps would prevent 21 CLABSIs and four deaths each
A central line-associated bloodstream infection is a serious
infection that occurs when germs enter the bloodstream through a
catheter (tube) that doctors often place in a large vein in the
neck, chest, or groin to give medication or fluids or to collect
blood for medical tests. Contaminated catheter hubs can be a cause
of such infections.
“Catheter hub decontamination requires a thorough scrub, and
compliance varies,” state the authors. “The approach of using a
continuously applied alcohol-impregnated sponge as a cap on the hub
for a standard approach to catheter care may eliminate the problem
of teaching healthcare providers one additional disinfection process
they need to use as part of their busy patient care schedule.”
Marc-Oliver Wright, Jackie Tropp, Donna M. Schora, Mary
Dillon-Grant, Kari Peterson, Sue Boehm, Ari Robicsek, and Lance R.
Peterson. Continuous passive disinfection of catheter hubs prevents
contamination and bloodstream infection. American Journal of
Infection Control, Volume 41, Issue 1 (January 2013).