UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Critical Care

Title: Reducing nosocomial sepsis

Posted: 4/9/2012 by Haney Mallemat, MD (Emailed: 4/10/2012) (Updated: 8/12/2014)
Click here to contact Haney Mallemat, MD

Sepsis is one of the top 10 causes of death in the U.S. and its incidence is on the rise.

The financial burden of sepsis is also growing; it is estimated that between 2000 and 2005 the overall cost of ICU hospitalization rose from $56.6 billion to $81.7 billion per year with severe sepsis accounting for $16.7 billion.

Although we may not be able to immediately modify the incidence of community-acquired sepsis, hospital-acquired sepsis can be reduced; for example, many cases of nosocomial sepsis are associated with catheter blood stream infections secondary to central-lines.

There are several simple strategies to prevent catheter-related blood-stream infections:

  • Ensure proper hand hygiene prior to central-line insertion
  • Use maximum sterile procedures during insertion of central venous catheters
  • Use skin antiseptics and proper dressings at catheter insertion sites
  • Rapid discontinuation of central venous catheters once no longer needed

Remember: We play a large role in reducing nosocomial sepsis; be vigilant about your sterile techniques during central catheter insertions and question the need for every single line.


Bonus pearl (only for iPhone): MDRNTools is a FREE app (that’s right, FREE!) with lots of ED and ICU applications such as an IV med calculator, an RSI handbook, a Stroke Scale calculator, and more.



Chalupka, A. N., & Talmor, D. (2012). The Economics of Sepsis. CCC, 28(1), 57–76.

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