Catheter-Associated Bloodstream Infections

Catheter-associated bloodstream infections are infections that occur in someone who has had a tube (central line, central catheter) placed in a large vein in his or her neck, chest, arm, or groin. This catheter may be left in place for a long time. This can cause bacteria to grow in the bloodstream.


A catheter-associated bloodstream infection can occur when bacteria or other germs travel down the catheter and enter the blood.


  • Feeling sick.

  • Fever.

  • Chills.

  • Red and sore skin around the catheter.


  • You will be prescribed antibiotic medicine.

  • The catheter may be removed.


In the hospital, your caregiver will:

  • Choose a vein that has a lesser risk for infection.

  • Wash his or her hands before putting in the catheter.

  • Wear a mask, cap, gown, and gloves when inserting the catheter.

  • Clean your skin before inserting the catheter.

  • Clean his or her hands, wear gloves, and clean the catheter opening before using the catheter to draw blood or give medicines.

  • Wash his or her hands and wear gloves when changing bandages (dressings).

  • Remove the catheter when it is not needed anymore.

  • Carefully handle medicines and fluids given to you through the catheter.

Make sure your caregiver:

  • Explains why you need the catheter and how long you will have it.

  • Uses all the prevention methods discussed above.

  • Washes his or her hands before and after caring for you.

Make sure visitors:

  • Stay away from your catheter and do not touch your catheter or the tubing.

  • Wash their hands before and after visiting you.

If you have additional questions, please ask your caregiver.


If you go home with a catheter:

  • Understand how to care for the catheter.

  • Ask for instructions on showering or bathing with the catheter.

  • Understand how to change the catheter dressing.

  • Wash your hands before touching your catheter.

  • Watch for signs of an infection.


  • You are in the hospital and your dressing gets wet or dirty.

  • You have questions or problems.


  • You have soreness or redness at the catheter site.

  • You develop a fever.