Infection Prevention and Microbiology

Infection Prevention

Healthcare associated infections from vascular access devices (VAD) have enormous and expensive consequences for patients, their families and the healthcare system. For this reason, strategies to prevent infection are the topic of ongoing research.

Most evidence to date has focused on preventing infection during the device insertion procedure, with less attention given to methods of preventing infection in the following days, weeks or months. Bloodstream infections can occur from poor healthcare worker technique when administering medicine or other therapies, or occasionally from manufacturer-contaminated products.

AVATAR research tackles pre-insertion as well as post-insertion strategies for effective infection prevention. We undertake Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs) to assess the cost-benefit to patients and the health system of implementing proven infection prevention strategies.


Vascular access devices (VAD) are inserted through the skin and directly into the bloodstream. Micro-organisms may enter the bloodstream, either through the entry 'wound' and along the external VAD surface (extra-luminal), or internally through the VAD and its connectors (intra-luminal). Once in contact with the VAD surface, microbes proliferate, and strongly adhere, developing a complex microbial community encased in a protective biofilm. These microbes are hard to eradicate, and potentially develop antimicrobial resistance.

Minor infections at the skin entry site or colonization of device connections can lead to more serious infections of the blood. Consequences of IV device related infections include pain, delays in necessary treatment, prolonged hospital stay, and huge physical, emotional and financial costs.

The AVATAR Group has a rigorous laboratory program. Laboratory research performed by AVATAR scientists investigates how and which microorganisms proliferate in IV devices, connectors, and on skin and dressings. The findings of this essential research are disseminated to device and dressing product companies to inform the development of better and safer products for more effective patient care.
Dr Li Zhang
B Med (Hons), PhD
Director, Infection Prevention and Microbiology


Griffith University
Australia 4111