According to the CDC, bloodstream infections in hemodialysis patients are too common, but they are also preventable.

Contaminated O-rings from multi-use dialyzers caused sepsis in three end-stage renal disease patients in California last year, according to a poster presentation at the 39th Annual Educational Conference and International Meeting of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology. The CDC reported last year that 37,000 bloodstream infections related to central lines occurred among hemodialysis patients in the United States in 2008. Since 1993, hospitalizations for bacteremia or septicemia have increased 40% among hemodialysis patients, and this increase occurred while the number of BSIs declined in intensive-care units of acute-care hospitals.

While the figures are grim, these infections are preventable. Implementing evidence-based interventions can lower infection rates. Educating clinic employees about proper infection control has successfully lowered infection rates in case studies when the education was accompanied by the endorsement and support of clinic management. It is just as important for the clinic managers to be educated on the subject as it is for the nurses and patient care technicians.  Without the support of management, those on the front lines of dialysis care may not feel empowered enough to intercede on behalf of patients when infection control breaches are observed.

The CDC course
To help educate dialysis clinic workers on proper infection prevention, the CDC created a new 1-hour course for outpatient dialysis clinics. The course is free and available as a flash-based slide presentation. Continuing education credits are available for those who register.