Central Line Associated Bloodstream Infection (CLABSI)

What is a central line-associated bloodstream infection?

A central line-associated bloodstream infection, or CLABSI, is a laboratory-confirmed bloodstream infection introduced through a central line device.

A central line is a long, flexible catheter used to deliver fluids or medications over a prolonged length of time, usually several weeks or more. These catheters are often placed in the arm, neck, or chest. A catheter is placed through the skin and into a large vein, and then manipulated until it reaches a larger vein near the heart.

How does a CLABI happen?

A bloodstream infection can occur when pathogens are introduced in the blood via the central line.

How do we prevent CLABSIs at Children’s Hospital?

Here at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, we take precautions when inserting and accessing the line:


  • We take the maximum sterile barrier precautions.
  • We prepare the insertion site with chlorhexidine (for patients over 2 months of age) for 30 seconds with 1 minute dry time.
  • We use a sterile, prepackaged insertion tray.
  • We use only polyurethane or Teflon catheters.


  • We change clear dressing covering the line daily.
  • We change gauze dressing covering the line at least every two days.
  • We assess patient’s need for the line frequently.
  • We scrub all access ports with alcohol for at least 15 seconds and allow to dry for 15 seconds.
  • We change tubing connected to the patient every four days.
  • We change TPN infusion tubing daily.
  • We change the caps on the ends of lines weekly.

How often are central line infections reported at Children’s?

Central Line Associated Bloodstream Infection (CLABSI)On average, we report one central line infection for every 675 days that patients have a central line in our hospital.