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Pediatric Intensive Care Units (PICUs) Have a Higher Rate of Infections Than Adult Intensive Care Units (ICUs).

by The Beasley Firm  |  January 30, 2012  |  ,

The Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center released their findings related to infections in pediatric ICUs. What they found was that pediatric intensive care units have a higher rate of infections, especially infections that are introduced through central line catheters.

Central line catheters are used in children to administer fluids, nutrition, vitamins and medications to critically injured or ill children. If an infection is permitted to gain access through a central line, the infection can get into the blood stream and cause an overwhelming infection, sepsis or even death to a child.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there is an estimated 27,000 to 65,000 central line related infections each year, including 12,000 to 28,000 in ICU’s alone. It is also estimated that approximately 37,000 central line-associated blood stream infections (CLABSIs) occur in patients who receive dialysis in outpatient dialysis centers. What is disturbing is that many of these catheter related infections go unreported. It was found that only half of the 423 pediatric ICUs in the United States had public information available regarding their bloodstream infection rates, even though the Health and Human Services Department issued a 2009 Action Plan to track and report such data.

The Consumers Report investigation focused on 92 pediatric ICU’s (PICUs) in thirty-one states plus Washington DC. The report found that infection rates in the PICUs were 20 percent higher than in adult ICU’s. Their ratings showed approximately 1.8 bloodstream infections for every 1,000 days children had central intravenous lines, compared to 1.5 bloodstream infections for every 1,000 central line days in adults. Some of the pediatric ICU’s that were studied showed rates as high as 7.2 per 1,000 central line days, more than four times the average for adult critical care units.

It is believed that since young children have immature immune systems they are more susceptible to bacterial infections. In addition, in children, central lines are usually accessed more and left in longer than in adults. The reason being is because it is more difficult to insert central lines into a child’s small veins than it is in an adult’s vein and blood sampling in children through the central line minimizes the amount of painful or traumatic needle sticks the child must endure.

In a November 2011 study in Pediatrics, 29 hospitals that had made it a priority to adhere to strict safety and infection control policies for at least three years were able to cut infection rates by 56 percent. Despite the fact that children may be more susceptible to catheter-related infections, there are some pediatric intensive care units that have zero catheter-related infections.

According to Dr. John Santa, director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center, “Every ICU, whether it’s a pediatric or adult unit, should be able to eliminate or at least dramatically reduce the number of hospital infections.” He believes that, “procedures to eliminate infections are simple, low-tech, and low-cost, relying for the most part on a change of mindset where the hospital staff comes to believe that an infection is never an acceptable outcome.”

Since 1958, the Beasley medical malpractice law firm has evaluated thousands of hospital related infections that led to blood poisoning, sepsis, septic shock, loss of limbs, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), liver failure, kidney failure, osteomyelitis, amputations or death. Our experienced infection teams consist of doctors and critical care nurses that have actually worked in ICU’s and cared for critically ill or injured newborns, children and adults with central lines. If you or a loved one has been injured due to a central line infection or sepsis while in the hospital, please feel free to contact one of our experiences lawyers, physicians or critical care nurses for a strictly confidential and free consultation. To date, we have had over $2 billion awarded on behalf of our injured clients.

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