Study: Urinary Catheters Are Leading Cause of Hospital-Acquired Infections

According to a new study published in the January issue of the journal Clinical Infectious Deseases, one in four hospitalized Americans has a urinary catheter. One percent of them will get a urinary tract infection from that catheter. All will require antibiotics, and a few may suffer life-threatening complications.

The study, which was conducted by a team of patient safety experts from the University of Michigan Health System and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, says that UTIs are responsible for 40 percent of infections related to hospitalization. But despite this fact, American hospitals don't seem to have a consistent strategy for preventing catheter-related UTIs. In fact, the study shows, most hospitals aren't using basic tactics that have been proven to keep patients from getting catheter-related UTIs in the first place. Nearly one-third of hospitals didn't even track the UTI rates in their patient populations.

"Until now, we haven't had national data to tell us what hospitals are doing to prevent this common and costly patient-safety problem," said lead author Sanjay Saint, M.D., MPH, the director of the U-M/VA Patient Safety Enhancement Program. "Now that we have these data, it's clear that there's no one dominant practice that's being used, including physician reminders, which have proven benefit and make a lot of common sense."

The researchers designed a survey that they sent to all 119 VA hospitals in the Unites States, and to a random sample of 600 non-federal hospitals that have an intensive care unit and 50 or more hospital beds. This sample was designed to represent the 2,671 hospitals of that type in the U.S.

The survey asked about a range of practices that can be used to prevent hospital-acquired UTIs, including the use of catheters coated with antimicrobial agents that inhibit bacterial growth, the use of condom-style and suprapubic catheters that reduce the risk of bacteria entering the urethra, the use of antimicrobial agents in the drainage bags that collect urine, and the use of portable ultrasound bladder scanners to see of patients' bladders were truly being emptied without a catheter.

In all, the researchers found that less than a third of hospitals used either of the two most common tactics: bladder scanners and antimicrobial catheters. VA hospitals were more likely than non-VA hospitals to use bladder scanners, condom catheters and suprapubic catheters, but less likely to use the antimicrobial catheters, which cost about $5 more apiece than regular catheters.

Download Center

  • Lone Worker Safety Guide

    As organizations digitalize and remote operations become more commonplace, the number of lone workers is on the rise. These employees are at increased risk for unaddressed workplace accidents or emergencies. This guide was created to help employers better understand common lone worker risks and solutions for lone worker risk mitigation and incident prevention.

  • Online Safety Training Buyer's Guide

    Use this handy buyer's guide to learn the basics of selecting online safety training and how to use it at your workplace.

  • COVID Return-to-Work Checklist, Fall 2021

    Use this checklist as an aid to help your organization return to work during the COVID-19 pandemic in a safe and healthy manner.

  • SDS Buyer's Guide

    Learn to make informed decisions while searching for SDS Management Software.

  • Risk Matrix Guide

    Risk matrices come in many different shapes and sizes. Understanding the components of a risk matrix will allow you and your organization to manage risk effectively.

  • Industry Safe

Featured Whitepapers

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - October 2021

    October 2021

    Featuring:

    • TRAINING
      On Route To Safe Material Handling
    • SAFETY CULTURE
      Normalization of Deviations in Performance
    • IH:INDOOR AIR QUALITY
      Arresting Fugitive Dusts
    • PPE:FOOT PROTECTION
      Safety Shoes Make the Outfit for Well-Protected Workers
    View This Issue