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Southampton Health Technology Assessments CentreNews

New SHTAC publication on the effectiveness of educational approaches for preventing bloodstream infections in critical care units

Published: 17 March 2014
Image of catheter

A new report on the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of educational interventions for preventing vascular catheter-related bloodstream infections in critical care units has been published in Health Technology Assessment.

Vascular catheters are widely used in critical care units but increase the risk of patients developing bloodstream infections. Most catheter-related bloodstream infections are thought to be avoidable if critical care doctors and nurses follow best hygienic practices for catheter insertion and ongoing care, but this may not always be achieved. Numerous different approaches for educating critical care staff about how to prevent these bloodstream infections have been tested in clinical studies but there has been no clear picture as to which approaches might be the most clinically effective and cost effective.

The report, which is based on a thorough review of the available evidence, finds that several different types of educational approach could be clinically effective and cost-effective if used in the NHS, and might even be cost-saving compared to current practice. However, there is uncertainty since studies often had weak research designs, making it sometimes unclear whether educational strategies were responsible for observed changes in infection rates. Among the recommendations arising are that future studies should be designed in ways that enable the identification of cause-and-effect associations.

The report ‘Educational interventions for preventing vascular catheter bloodstream infections in critical care: evidence map, systematic review and economic evaluation’ is freely available from the NIHR Journals Library.

For more information on SHTAC's research on infectious diseases see our Research page.

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