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Catheter-Associated Bloodstream Infections in General Medical Patients Outside the Intensive Care Unit: A Surveillance Study

  • Jonas Marschall (a1), Carole Leone (a2), Marilyn Jones (a2), Deborah Nihill (a2), Victoria J. Fraser (a1) (a2) and David K. Warren (a1) (a2)...



To determine the incidence of central venous catheter (CVC)-associated bloodstream infection (CA-BSI) among patients admitted to general medical wards outside the intensive care unit (ICU).


Prospective cohort study performed over a 13-month period, from April 1, 2002, through April 30, 2003.


Four selected general medical wards at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, a 1,250-bed teaching hospital in Saint Louis, Missouri.


All patients admitted to 4 general medical wards.


A total of 7,337 catheter-days were observed during 33,174 patient-days. The device utilization ratio (defined as the number of catheter-days divided by the number of patient-days) was 0.22 overall and was similar among the 4 wards (0.21, 0.25, 0.19, and 0.24). Forty-two episodes of CA-BSI were identified (rate, 5.7 infections per 1,000 catheter-days). Twenty-four (57%) of the 42 cases of CA-BSI were caused by gram-positive bacteria: 10 isolates (24%) were coagulase-negative staphylococci, 10 (24%) were Enterococcus species, and 3 (7%) were Staphylococcus aureus. Gram-negative bacteria caused 7 infections (17%). Five CA-BSIs (12%) were caused by Candida albicans, and 5 infections (12%) had a polymicrobial etiology. Thirty-five patients (83%) with CA-BSI had nontunneled CVCs in place.


Non-ICU medical wards in the study hospital had device utilization rates that were considerably lower than those of medical ICUs, but CA-BSI rates were similar to CA-BSI rates in medical ICUs in the United States. Studies of catheter utilization and on CVC insertion and care should be performed on medical wards. CA-BSI prevention strategies that have been used in ICUs should be studied on medical wards.


Corresponding author

Division of Infectious Diseases, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 South Euclid, St. Louis, MO 63110 (


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