Preventing contamination at the time of central venous catheter insertion: A literature review and recommendations for clinical practice

Nicholas Yacopetti, Patricia M. Davidson, Joy Blacka, Timothy R. Spencer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Aims and objectives: To evaluate the evidence base and rationale underpinning the various infections control strategies during central venous catheter insertion and to promote discussion about the key, recurring concepts and recommendations in the literature. Logistical and organisational factors relating to central venous catheter insertion are also examined. Background: Catheter-related bloodstream infections following the insertion of central venous catheters are associated with significant patient mortality and morbidity, prolonged hospital stays and increased economic costs. Limited published literature specifically examines microbial contamination during the peri-insertion process. Methods: An integrative literature review supervised by a health informatics librarian was undertaken. On the basis of these data, considerations for clinical practice are provided. Retrieved articles were categorised under the following themes: risk of contamination at insertion; clinical and organisational impact of contamination; strategies for reducing contamination; controversies and challenges with decontamination strategies; recommendations for practice and implications for further research and organisational practice. Results: Specific recommendations for reducing catheter-related bloodstream infections based on recurring themes include the following: reducing microbial burden on skin prior to the central venous catheter insertion; decreasing contact of gloves and insertion equipment with the patient's skin; using specifically trained staff to prepare and maintain a sterile field; and ensuring a sterile technique is adhered to throughout the central venous catheter insertion process. The need for organisational, procedural and clinical practices to support better healthcare outcomes is demonstrated. Highlighting the importance of executive support and regular review of policy and guidelines are necessary to improve patient outcomes. Conclusions: Preventing infections related to central venous catheters requires the integration of clinical, organisational and workforce factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)611-620
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of clinical nursing
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Catheter-related bloodstream infection
  • Central venous catheter insertion
  • Contamination
  • Maximal barrier precautions
  • Skin antisepsis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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