Preventable Hospital Infection Kills Thousands Each Year
Vox looks at problems with common 'central line catheter' procedure
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 9, 2015 5:53 PM CDT

(Newser) – Every year, millions of people have a tube called a central line catheter inserted into their body so it can deliver medication straight to the heart. And every year, thousands of people die from easily preventable infections related to the procedure, reports Sarah Kliff at Vox. In 2013, nearly 10,000 people died of such infections, making them one of the leading causes of death in the US health care system. The worst part is that these deaths are happening even through research suggests a relatively simple fix could prevent them all—attention to cleanliness.

About a decade ago, a Johns Hopkins physician developed a five-step checklist that emphasizes "obsessive, meticulous cleanliness," both when inserting the tube and when changing a patient's dressing. It helped cut central line infections by 46% between 2008 and 2013. That's a huge success story in one sense, but disappointing in another—deaths are still happening inside hospitals despite evidence that a fix is in reach. "If there were maybe a couple dozen of these each year, I’d shrug and say, given the size of this country, I think that’s acceptable," says a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. "The fact that we have thousands? That points to a much bigger problem in health care." Click to read the full article.