Human factors related to time-dependent infection control measures: “Scrub the hub” for venous catheters and feeding tubes

Published:February 15, 2017DOI:


      • Knowledge of existing infection control measures does not imply adherence, particularly when time-based practices and time estimation are necessary aspects of the practice.
      • Institution of timing devices is an effective tool in increasing adherence to time-based–dependent practices.
      • We demonstrated these findings for the hub care of both venous catheters and feeding tubes.
      • Aids that qualify specific times to account for human factors should be implemented to ensure adherence to time-dependent measures aimed at decreasing nosocomial infections.


      The use of catheter hub decontamination protocols is a common practice to reduce central line–associated bloodstream infections. However, few data exist on the most effective disinfection procedure prior to hub access accounting for human factors and time-dependent practices in real time in the clinical setting.


      An observational design with a multimodal intervention was used in this study in a neonatal intensive care unit. Direct observations on nurse compliance of scrub times with decontamination when accessing of venous catheter and feeding tube hubs were conducted during 3 phases: (1) baseline period prior to any interventions; (2) during an educational intervention phase; and (3) during a timer intervention period when using a timing device, either an actual timer or music button.


      Overall, both education and the timing device interventions increased the mean scrub time ± SD of venous catheter hubs. Mean baseline scrub times of 10 ± 5 seconds were lower compared with 23 ± 12 seconds after educational intervention (P < .002) and 31 ± 8 seconds with timer or music button use (P < .001). Timer intervention scrub time was also more effective than education alone (P < .05). Similar findings were observed with scrub times of feeding tubes.


      Time-based infection control measures, such as scrubbing the hub, must be implemented with aids that qualify specific times to account for human factors, to ensure adherence to time-dependent measures aimed at decreasing nosocomial infections.

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