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BMJ Qual Saf. 2011 Feb;20(2):174-80. doi: 10.1136/bmjqs.2009.037200.

Elimination of central-venous-catheter-related bloodstream infections from the intensive care unit.

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Intensive Care Unit, Stirling Royal Infirmary, NHS Forth Valley, Stirling FK8 2AU, UK.



Central-venous-catheter (CVC)-related bloodstream infection (CRBSI) is a complication of intensive care stay which can have important adverse consequences for both patient and institution. There are a number of evidence-based interventions that reduce CRBSI, but it is recognised that consistently applying the best evidence every time is a challenge.


The authors set out to reduce CRBSI and introduced interventions in our intensive care unit (ICU) over a 4-year period using a quality improvement approach. In a setting supportive to change and improvement, the authors established infection surveillance and introduced bundles of care processes relating to insertion and maintenance of CVCs. The changes were supported by educational interventions. The authors measured care processes and outcomes, and used statistical process control charts to illustrate changes. The final 18 months of the work was performed in the context of a national safety improvement programme (The Scottish Patient Safety Programme).


Following interventions, the annual CRBSI rate fell from 3.4 to 0/1000 patient days with zero episodes during the final 19 months of the study.


The authors describe a significant reduction in CRBSI for the first time in a UK ICU. The authors summarised and simplified what to do, measured and provided feedback on outcomes, and improved expectations of performance standards for care processes. The authors believe that these approaches are worthy of serious consideration elsewhere.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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