What are urinary tract infections associated with urinary catheters and how can they be prevented?
A urinary catheter is a tube placed in the bladder to drain urine. A catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI) can occur when bacteria or other germs travel along a urinary catheter, resulting in an infection in the bladder or the kidney. Symptoms of a urinary tract infection include fever, tenderness over the lower abdomen, burning during urination, and urinary frequency.
CAUTIs are the most frequently occurring healthcare-associated infection, but their incidence can be reduced with several key health care provider practices:
- Avoid unnecessary catheters. They should be used only when absolutely necessary, such as when there is a urinary obstruction, during some surgeries or when someone is critically ill.
- When a urinary catheter is needed, it should be inserted with sterile technique. Health care providers should use appropriate hand hygiene(which includes hand-washing and the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer), sterile equipment and antiseptic solutions.
- Urinary catheters should be maintained properly once inserted to keep them sterile and unobstructed.
- Once it is no longer needed, a urinary catheter should be removed promptly. The longer a catheter is in place, the greater the risk of infection over time.
What Can You Do as a Patient?
- Clean your hands before and after caring for your catheter.
- Always keep the urine bag that is attached to the catheter below the level of your bladder.
- Don't tug or pull on the catheter tubing.
- Don't twist or kink the catheter tubing.
- Ask your health care provider regularly if you still need the catheter.
For more information visit: cdc.gov
For general prevention and safety information about healthcare-associated infection visit: cdc.gov