Use of a simple disinfection cap on catheters can improve disinfection of IV catheters and lower the cost of care, according to research presented at the annual conference of the Association for Vascular Access Oct. 16-19 in San Antonio.

Three scientific posters reported on infection-control efforts using a disinfection cap at a children's hospital, a border hospital with a challenging patient population, and a New York-area community hospital. The research detailed efforts using relatively new technologies known as SwabCap and SwabKIT. SwabCap is a disinfection cap that helps disinfect needleless luer-lock IV connectors and protect them between line accesses. SwabKIT is an integrated delivery system that packages a disinfection cap with a saline flush syringe, so the cap is available at the point of care.

New York hospital uses catheter cap, syringe to lower catheter infection rate
A scientific poster described how White Plains Hospital, a community hospital in White Plains, N.Y., adopted the combined cap and syringe after noting an unsatisfactory level of central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) in its peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) lines. Besides using the disinfection cap on all central IV lines, as many institutions do, White Plains mandated that it be used on all peripheral IVs and on all tubing openings to create a closed system.
The poster reported that the hospital has recorded an 82% decrease in CLABSIs. The facility has also calculated that it can save a minimum of $583,000 a year in avoided CLABSI treatment costs.

Minnesota hospital sees no central line bloodstream infections for two years
A poster from Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul, Minn. discussed a multi-pronged initiative to minimize CLABSIs. The initiative included use of a disinfection cap to supplement manual disinfection of IV needleless connectors. All of Gillette's changes in practices and products were implemented in November 2010. As of mid-October 2012, the hospital’s pediatric ICU had no CLABSIs for nearly two years.

Texas hospital lowers catheter infection rate
Another poster at outlined how Mission Regional Medical Center in Mission, Texas, implemented a disinfection cap as part of an effort to reduce CLABSIs and their associated costs, and then switched to SwabKIT to improve compliance with disinfection cap use.

The rate for Jan.-Nov. 2011 was 3.22/1,000 catheter days. In comparison, the CLABSI rate during the 21 months the cap and other efforts have been in use is 0.33/1,000 catheter days.

The poster also noted that the change to SwabKIT nearly doubled compliance with cap use, to 82%. On the financial front, the hospital projected roughly $371,000 in annual net savings in avoided infection treatment costs.