Urinary Catheter Infection Prevention
For patients with urinary catheters, risk of urinary tract infections is increased; because the lining of the bladder and urethra are irritated by the presence of the catheter, the body's natural defenses against infection are compromised. The increased risk for infection manifests rather frequently - research has suggested that more than three-quarters of urinary tract infections that occur during a hospital stay are connected to the presence of a urinary catheter. It is clear, then, that greater steps need to be taken to address this alarming trend.
First and foremost, infection can be mitigated when urinary catheters are only used when absolutely necessary, and when they are removed at the earliest possible moment in treatment. By lessening the time a patient has a urinary catheter, their risk for a urinary tract infection can be similarly reduced. Gloves and other appropriate hygienic techniques are to be used by health care practitioners interacting with the catheter at any point, and the patient should have the area around the catheter cleaned twice daily with soap and water. While antibacterial ointment can be used at the point of insertion, there is no strong statistical evidence suggesting this is beneficial. When collecting urine samples, health care workers should use a sterile needle at the sanitized port of the catheter bag; collecting urine by any other method can introduce bacteria to the otherwise closed system. When emptying the catheter bag, health care workers should ensure the spigot of the bag does not come into contact with the collection container, as the latter is nonsterile and can introduce bacteria. Finally, some research suggests that clinical settings should take care to not house two patients with urinary catheters in the same room; this can provide temptation for practitioners to use the same equipment on more than one patient, thereby increasing the risk of spreading bacteria, or can contribute to decreased rates of handwashing or changing sterile gloves. While urinary tract infections are not altogether avoidable, there are numerous steps that practitioners can take to reduce the overall likelihood that a patient will suffer this complication.