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Central Line Associated Bloodstream Infection (CLABSI) Prevention

Article Translations: (Spanish) (Somali)

Your child's doctor has recommended a 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 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 line can be safely inserted, the type that your child will need, and how long it 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. These include:

  • Washing our hands and/or using alcohol-based hand rub frequently.
  • Wearing a mask and sterile gloves when changing the dressing and injection cap(s) while in the .
  • Assessing the site  frequently for signs of infection.
  • Daily chlorhexidine (CHG) bath treatment while in the hospital for those patients greater than or equal 42 weeks corrected gestational age. If you notice skin sensitivity due to CHG, discuss with your doctor and nurse for trouble shooting or alternative treatment options.
  • Daily discussion with care team to see if the central line is still needed.
  • Following 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 central line 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.
  • During bathing/showering, cover the central line site and line(s) with a waterproof covering. If the transparent dressing becomes wet, replace it right a.
  • During bathing/showering, do not let the line drop into the bath water, as germs from the water may enter the end of the line.  
  • Keep the central line out of the diaper area when changing the diaper, and do not allow your child to put the line in their mouth.
  • 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. If you have any questions, ask your child's nurse or doctor.

Reviewed 6/21

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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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