A children's hospital nutritional care team prospectively monitored the frequency of sepsis in central venous catheters used for administering parenteral nutrition. During an initial study period of 12 months, 26/58 (45%) of catheters were removed because of proved sepsis. The possible causes of this alarmingly high rate were examined, with catheter care techniques on the wards coming under particular scrutiny. As a result protocols were modified and an intensive staff training programme implemented throughout the hospital, led by the nutritional care sister. Subsequently, the catheter sepsis rate was significantly reduced with only 9/107 (8%) of consecutive catheters becoming infected. These findings emphasise the key role that education of staff plays in controlling central venous catheter sepsis and the importance and cost effectiveness of special nursing staff in implementing such measures.
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