Journal Article

Do clinicians know which of their patients have central venous catheters?: A multicenter observational study.

Chopra V; Govindan S; Kuhn L; Ratz D; Sweis RF; Melin N; Thompson R; Tolan A; Barron J; Saint S.

Catheter-associated infections are common, and largely preventable, adverse events. Though incidence of these events has declined due to intensive safety efforts, one factor contributing to intravenous catheter infections is the failure to remove unnecessary central venous catheters (CVCs). This study sought to determine whether inpatient physicians know which of their patients have CVCs in place by comparing physician response to direct observation of each patient. Physicians were unaware of CVCs in about 20% of the cases examined. Trainee physicians were more likely to be aware of a CVC than teaching attending physicians or hospitalists, and critical care physicians were more likely to know about a CVC than general medicine physicians. These findings suggest that interventions to reduce CVC-associated infections should address clinician awareness of CVCs. An AHRQ WebM&M commentary discusses best practices for removing CVCs.