A: A central line is a catheter (tube) that is passed through a vein (usually below the neck) and into either the main vein returning blood to the heart or the heart itself.

Central lines allow for concentrated infusions of medicine to be administered with less risk of complication than peripheral intravenous infusions and other methods of medicine delivery.

One risk of central line placement is infection.  However, there are established procedures available that, if followed, essentially eliminate central line related infection.  Before you allow a central line to be placed, ask about your hospital's infection rate.  Less than 1 in 1,000 is very good.  1 - 3 in 1,000 is acceptable.  Above 3 in 1,000 is unacceptable. Other things to ask about include:

  • Does the hospital use ultrasound imaging to guide placement of the central line? They should. This technology greatly increases accuracy and safety.
  • Before starting, did your doctor or nurse wash hands, put on sterile gloves and wear a mask? If they didn't (or if they touched anything else in the room before getting started) insist that they do so (or do so again).
  • Make sure it's in. Ask for a saline test before the medication is introduced. If the skin around the injection site bulges then the line is not in correctly.
  • Continually ask if it needs to stay in. The longer a line is in the greater the risk of complication. Ask you doctor daily if the risk of keeping the line is outweighed by the benefit.

Contact a Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If your loved one was injured as a result of a medical mistake, you probably want answers.  Why did this happen?  Was there a mistake made that was avoidable?  Do we have a case?  The Erie medical mistake attorneys at Purchase, George & Murphey, P.C. have the knowledge and experience to accurately assess and thoroughly prepare your case. You may be entitled to compensation and we'd like to help you. Contact us today for a free evaluation of your case at 814-580-5017 or toll free at 877-505-9548 or use our online contact form.