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Central Line Associated Bloodstream Infection (CLABSI) Prevention

Article Translations: (Spanish) (Somali)

Your child's doctor has recommended a central venous catheter (or central line) for your child. A central line is a thin tube inserted into a large vein that goes to the heart. A central line catheter can be useful in situations requiring frequent intravenous (IV) medications, blood transfusions, blood draws for lab work, or IV nutrition. Your child's doctor determines the location where the catheter can be safely inserted, the catheter type that your child will need, and how long the catheter will be in place.

Central lines are helpful for taking care of your child; however, they can increase the risk of infections when bacteria grow in the line and travel to the bloodstream. This is called a Central Line Associated Blood Stream Infection or CLABSI. A CLABSI can be serious and life threatening.

Fortunately there are steps we can take to prevent CLABSIs. The most important step is handwashing. At Children's, we monitor all central line catheters for signs of infection every day. We also take steps to keep infections from happening by:

  • Washing our hands and/or using alcohol-based hand rub frequently;
  • Using antiseptic soap on the skin before inserting the catheter;
  • Wearing a mask and sterile gloves when changing the dressing and needleless connector cap(s) while in the hospital;
  • Carefully handling medications and fluids given through the catheter;
  • Central lines are assessed hourly for signs of infection;
  • Daily CHG bath treatment while in the hospital (used for neonatal patients on a case by case basis);
  • Daily checks to see if the catheter is still needed.

We also follow strict protocols when inserting central lines as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

How should I care for my child?

Parents and patients also have a role to play in preventing CLABSIs:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand rub found in each room. Hand hygiene is required:
    • When you enter and leave your child's room;
    • Before and after you prepare food, eat, or feed your child;
    • Before and after you use the bathroom or change a diaper.
  • Ask your child's visitors to wash their hands when they enter and exit your child's room.
  • Do not allow visitors to touch the catheter or tubing.
  • Watch your nurses and doctors to make sure they wash their hands before and after handling the central line. Do not be afraid to remind them to wash their hands!
  • Your nurses and doctors will wear clean gloves when handling the central line while in the hospital.
  • Keep the central line out of the diaper area when changing the diaper, and do not allow your child to suck on the catheter.
  • If you have any concerns about your child's central line, or the way it is cared for, talk to your child's doctor or nurse.


We value providing safe care for your child during their illness. Thank you for your help in providing a germ free environment for your child's central line catheter. If you have any questions, ask your child's nurse or doctor.

Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota
2525 Chicago Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55404

Last Reviewed 8/2018 © Copyright

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Minnesota Family Resource Center library, or visit

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