Risk Factors Associated With Intravascular Catheter Infections In Burned Patients: A Prospective, Randomized Study

Dido Franceschi, Robert L. Gerding, Georgene Phillips, Richard B. Fratianne

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46 Scopus citations


A prospective, controlled study of 101 intravascular catheter sites was undertaken to determine the importance of tubing manipulation and skin contamination in the etiology of catheter infection in burned patients. Catheters in place for 3 days were randomized to have the tubing changed every 24 or 48 hours. Catheters were removed at 72 hours and the tips cultured by the semi-quantitative technique of Maki. Hubs were cultured (by swab culture) at times of tubing change and at the time of catheter removal. Skin cultures of the area surrounding the catheter were done at the time of insertion and removal. Catheter tip infection was defined as 15 or more colony forming units. Positive cultures were found in 25.7% of the cases, and were most often due to Pseudomonas species (33%) and coagulase-negative Staphylococcus (29%). Infections occurred in 35% of arterial catheters, 27% of central, and 12% of peripheral venous catheters. No benefit was observed from changing the administration tubing at 24 hours vs. 48 hours. Hub cultures were positive 30% of the time at 24 hours, 39% at 48 hours and 41% at 72 hours. Although the isolated organisms correlated with tip cultures, false positive rates varied from 8 to 62%. Discriminant analysis showed no relationship between catheter infection and burn size or day postburn; however, the incidence of catheter infection correlated inversely with the distance of the catheter insertion site from the burn wound (p = 0.01). Furthermore, stepwise logistic multivariate analysis showed cutaneous colonization of the insertion site at the time of removal of the catheter to be a significant risk factor for catheter infection (relative risk, R.R. = 6.16). Frequent IV tubing changes are unnecessary in burn patients. An effort should be made to maximize the distance between the burn wound and the catheter insertion site. Hub contamination is not a reliable predictor of infection. Skin contamination with migration of bacteria along the catheter appears to be an important cause of intravascular catheter infection in burned patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)811-816
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1989
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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