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Med J Aust. 1994 Sep 19;161(6):374-8.

Intravascular catheter associated sepsis: a common problem. The Australian Study on Intravascular Catheter Associated Sepsis.

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Infectious Diseases Unit, Woden Valley Hospital, Garran.



To estimate the number of episodes of intravascular catheter associated sepsis that occur in Australia per year.


Data were collected from 15 Australian hospitals (mainly tertiary referral hospitals). All positive results of blood cultures were followed up and the primary sepsis site identified and recorded. The average study period was 1.2 years.


Eight hundred and nine episodes of systemic sepsis associated with intravascular catheters were identified from 4957 separate episodes of bacteraemia or fungaemia. Of those in which the catheter site was known, there were 491 episodes of sepsis associated with central vein catheters and 233 with peripheral vein catheters. Systemic sepsis with peripheral vein catheters occurred with 0.36 of every 1000 catheters purchased, but with central vein catheters it was 23 episodes per 1000 catheters (relative risk, 64; 95% confidence interval, 54-76). In these hospitals, 8.2 episodes of intravascular catheter associated sepsis occurred annually per 100 beds and 1.5 episodes per 1000 admissions. From these figures, at least 3000 cases of intravascular sepsis may occur per year in Australia.


Intravascular catheter sepsis is common. Central vein catheters cause more sepsis than peripheral vein catheters. With the greater use of catheters this problem is likely to increase.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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