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Five Potential Sources of CLABSIs and How to Help Prevent the Infections

There are a number of ways a patient can get a Central line associated bloodstream infection. Below are the 5 primary sources, with 20% of infections coming from other sources beyond these listed.

Skin organisms

  • This is the most common source of contamination as the patient's own flora (bacteria) can invade the insertion site and cause infection.
  • Accounts for approximately 60% of infections.
  • The best way to remove "transient" flora is through proper skin antisepsis, allowing the solution to completely dry prior to device insertion. Click here to learn more about PDI Prevantics® Antiseptics.

Contamination of catheter hub

  • Accounts for approximately 12% of infections.
  • These invasive lines serve as direct routes into the vascular system and have to be treated accordingly.
  • The best way to prevent contamination is through
    • Performing Hand Hygiene prior to accessing the device.
    • Disinfecting needleless access sites prior to use and between each access. Click here to learn more about the PDI Prevantics® Device Swab.

Contaminated infusate

  • Very uncommon, accounts for only 1% of infections.
  • Typically occurs during the manufacturing process.
  • To help prevent contamination, clinicians need to handle products, such as IV fluids, aseptically and according to packaging instructions.

Contamination of device prior to insertion

  • This is a common error when a sterile item such as the catheter is accidentally contaminated by the clinician.
  • Contamination is typically due to lack of compliance to aseptic technique. It is rarely due to the manufacturing process.
  • Handle supplies aseptically to help prevent contamination.


  • Infections from another site, such as an infected foot, transfer organisms to the insertion site of a vascular access catheter and cause significant risk to the patient, such as sepsis.