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Five studies that evaluated five different quality-improvement initiatives for the prevention of central line-associated
bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) in adult, pediatric and/or neonatal intensive care units (ICUs) and that were published within
the past two years in an infection-control and epidemiology journal were reviewed, assessed and compared. Each is a prospective
cohort study that similarly concludes that the evaluated initiative was responsible for a significant and calculated reduction in the
CLABSI rate, ranging from 30.3% to 85%. The soundness of these conclusions and calculations, however, like the legitimacy of
several other common uses of CLABSI data, requires, in addition to satisfying a number of other criteria, that each study's
CLABSI rates be accurate and complete. The primary goal of this analysis, therefore, was to confirm the hypothesis that each of
these five studies had validated its CLABSI rates. The analysis found, however, that these five studies did not validate the
accuracy and completeness of their CLABSI rates, which raises reasonable questions about each study’s assessment of and
conclusions about the initiative's effectiveness for the prevention of CLABSIs. In addition to their aims, calculations, and
conclusions, these five studies share in common a number of features, as well as circumscribing qualities, which are discussed.
The distinction between a qualitative assessment and a quantitative determination of an initiative's performance is also discussed.
Both the circumspective use of CLABSI data that have not been validated and the cautious interpretation of conclusions about
central-line care that are based on these CLABSI data are recommended.