How do Dressings Prevent Risk of Infection at Catheter Sites?

What is an IV catheter?

IV catheters are tubes used to deliver medication, fluids, or gases to patients. They include vascular access devices, intravenous catheters, urinary catheters, and chest drainage tubes. They are usually inserted into a body cavity, duct, or blood vessel. Catheters require proper care and maintenance so as to avoid complications and infections. Risk of  infection depends on various factors. They include - type of catheter, site of insertion, and skin preparation method. Even choice of dressing, catheter dwell time and frequency of replacement can affect risk of infections.

Dressing to avoid infection at catheter site

Dressings are used to shield a wound or an opening on the body from contaminants and help in expediting healing of the wound. In the case of urinary catheters a dressing is used to shield or protect the catheter site from all kinds of infections that might arise due to the high moisture content near this region. Occlusive dressings trap the skin moisture, providing an ideal environment for bacterial/fungal growth. Broadly, two (2) types of dressings are used in such cases –

First is the gauze and tape dressing and the second is the sterile, transparent, semi-permeable, polyurethane dressing coated with a layer of acrylic adhesive.

The latter has become increasingly popular as it offers a barrier to air contaminants and external pathogens. Though the gauze is sterile, it does not provide a barrier against potential microorganisms. The reused rolls of tape may get easily infected and might compromise the sterility of the dressings.

A healthcare professional, while using a transparent dressing can visually inspect the site without removing the dressing. They are waterproof and so the patient can even bathe in them without dampening the catheter site. When compared to gauze and tape dressings, they require less frequent changes. This preserves the skin integrity and lowers the risk of infection.

What are your options?

While dealing with this situation, one might get confused as to which dressing they should choose as there is a wide array of dressings that are designed for different purposes. We have listed 4 dressings from well respected brands that can help you dress the catheter region with ease.

3M Tegaderm Transparent Film Dressing with Border

3M Tegaderm Transparent Film Dressing with Border exemplifies these properties. It best suits small-sized catheter sites. It is known to provide a viral barrier against viruses 27 nm in diameter or even larger. This product allows a wear time of seven (7) days so the patient can easily relax.

If the patient feels a need for better stability, he/she can opt for a transparent dressing with additional securement features.

How do Dressings Prevent Risk of Infection at Catheter Sites?
3M Tegaderm Transparent Film Dressing with Border

DeRoyal Covaderm Plus V.A.D. Vascular Access Dressing

DeRoyal Covaderm Plus V.A.D Dressing for those who require a multi-layer dressing this would be a good choice. It's special ‘V-Cut’ tape secures the catheter extension tubing and prevents lifting of the dressing edge. It is gentle on the skin and conforms easily to body contours.

How do Dressings Prevent Risk of Infection at Catheter Sites?
DeRoyal Covaderm Plus V. A. D. Vascular Access Dressing

Smith & Nephew Opsite IV3000 Frame Delivery Moisture Responsive Catheter Dressing

Smith & Nephew Catheter Dressing is another useful dressing designed to meet the needs of catheter fixation and to keep the catheter site dry. Through increased moisture vapor transmission rate, it creates an environment for managing moisture at the catheter site.

How do Dressings Prevent Risk of Infection at Catheter Sites?
Smith & Nephew Opsite IV3000 Frame Delivery Moisture Responsive Catheter Dressing​

BSN Cutimed Sorbion Sachet S Drainage Dressing

BSN Cutimed Drainage Dressing is a newer type of transparent film dressing, and is very effective against catheter-related bloodstream infections. It has chlorhexidine gluconate-impregnated gel patch for continuous protection for the duration of catheter use, and has a highly absorbent core.

How do Dressings Prevent Risk of Infection at Catheter Sites?
BSN Cutimed Sorbion Sachet S Drainage Dressing

Thus, with excellent adhesion, firm support to the catheter, and cost saving due to fewer replacements, transparent film dressings are rated higher than gauze and tape dressings. However, if there is blood coming from the catheter site, gauze and tape dressing may be required. The site care frequency is 5 to 7 days for transparent film dressings and two days for gauze and tape dressing.

Word of caution

Even though the dressings have a considerable wear time, they should be monitored on a daily basis. If the catheter is damp, loosened or visibly soiled, it needs an immediate replacement. Even though the dressings are anti-microbial, utmost care is required while inserting the catheter. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has issued preventive guidelines. These recommend hand hygiene and aseptic technique to insert catheters and to prepare clean skin with an antiseptic before insertion.


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