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Fewer Patients in I.C.U. Getting Blood Infections

Bloodstream infections caused by tubes inserted into major blood vessels of intensive care patients showed a big drop from 2001 to 2009, government researchers said on Tuesday.

But the researchers also reported unacceptably high rates of the same type of infections in other hospital wards and in people receiving dialysis for kidney failure.

The illnesses, called central-line infections, can be serious, with death rates of 12 percent to 25 percent. Central lines are tubes that are usually placed in the large veins of the neck or chest to deliver medicines and nutrition.

Infections in these lines are common, but also largely preventable. Bacteria like staphylococcus can be warded off with simple measures like washing hands, wearing sterile gowns and drapes, and following the proper techniques for inserting and maintaining the lines.

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