To be sure of killing these bacteria, nurses or doctors must "scrub the hub" for a full 15 seconds, and Wright acknowledges that "when your patient is in need of medication, and you have to stand there for 15 seconds scrubbing the hub, well, you must might hurry it up a little bit and not give it that full 15 seconds."
"Even if you're really good, it's probably not going to happen 100% of the time," he says.
In a paper published in the American Journal of Infection Control, Wright and NorthShore colleagues showed the results of a three-phase trial in which each of three of NorthShore's hospitals experimented with three phases of intervention with the cap, with results showing "sharp," and "very statistically significant," reductions in infections during the phase in which they used the special alcohol impregnated cap.
In Phase 1, which ran during various months in 2010, nursing staff and physicians were instructed to use standard "scrub-the-hub" techniques, in which an alcohol pad is used to scrub the catheter hub for a recommended 15 seconds.
That technique is what is commonly used at most hospitals around the country today, Wright says.