Central lines are long, flexible tubes inserted in the neck, chest, arm or leg to access a patient's bloodstream, with a tip that ends near the heart. They are used to give fluids or drugs, take blood samples, or monitor pressure inside the heart. Serious infection occurs if bacteria enter the bloodstream through a central line. These are called central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI).
Washington State law (RCW 43.40.56) requires hospitals licensed by the Department of Health to report CLABSI from intensive care units and other inpatient units.