Increased staph infections linked to commonly used PVC catheters

More than one in 10 catheter-related bloodstream infections linked to Staphylococcus aureus, the second most common cause of hospital-acquired bloodstream infections, may be caused by peripheral venous catheters (PVC), researchers from Rhode Island Hospital in Providence report.

Peripheral venous catheter infections have been deemphasized as many national and local preventative efforts focused on the link between central venous catheters and infections, according to Leonard Mermel, DO, the hospital's director of epidemiology and infection control. However, a closer look is needed in the role of PVCs in causing infections among hospitalized patients--especially if the the PVCs are left in place more than three days.

In the Rhode Island study, the researchers documented 24 PVC-related Staph aureus bloodstream infections among 77,852 hospital discharges. Based on these figures, they estimated that approximately 10,000 PVC-related Staph aureus bloodstream infections are occurring each year among hospitalized adults.

In their own hospital survey, they found that 76 percent of hospitalized adult patients had PVCs. They also found a greater than expected number of PVCs associated with Staph aureus bloodstream infections that were placed in the emergency department or an outside hospital--and were in for a longer period of time compared to uninfected PVCs.

Minimizing PVC placement in the "elbow pit" part of the arm, removing catheters within 24 hours if they were placed under emergency conditions, and giving "strong consideration for replacing PVCs after a 72-hour dwell time will reduce the risk of infection in adult patients," Mermel said in a statement.

The study is appearing in the June issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

For more information:
- see the Rhode Island Hospital release
- read the Infection Control Today article