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Central Line Associated Bloodstream Infection

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 5, 2023.

A central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI) can develop when a virus or bacteria get into your bloodstream through a central line. Watch for signs of an infection, such as a fever and chills. You may also develop pain, redness, swelling, or pus where the catheter was inserted.


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is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


  • Medicine may be given to help treat the infection or decrease pain or fever.
  • Removal or change of a central line may be needed.


  • Blood tests may show infection and give information about your overall health. Blood tests may also show what germ is causing the infection.
  • A culture of the central line may show what germ is causing your illness. This is done after the central line is removed.
  • An x-ray, ultrasound, CT, or MRI may show infection in other areas of your body. You may be given contrast liquid to help the organs show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.

What you can do in the hospital to prevent a CLABSI:

  • Tell a healthcare provider if your bandage becomes wet, dirty, or falls off. A new bandage should be applied over your central line to prevent infection.
  • Tell your healthcare provider about any problems with the catheter. Tell him or her if you see fluid coming from your insertion site or any part of the tubing. Also tell him or her if you feel pain when the catheter is flushed, or at the insertion site.


A CLABSI may be difficult to treat. The infection may spread throughout and your body and cause life-threatening infections, sepsis, or shock.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

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