Twenty-five percent of Americans in hospital are given a urinary catheter, but a new study shows that hospitals are slow to prevent UTIs (urinary tract infections), which are the most common hospital acquired infections and represent 40% of such infections.
The study was published in the January issue of the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases by a team of safety experts from the University of Michigan Health System and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, It shows that almost half of all hospitals do not have any way of knowing which patients currently have a catheter, and three quarters lack a system which tell them how long a patient has had a catheter, or whether one has been removed. Close to one third of hospitals do not monitor the UTI rates among their patients.
A method of reducing UTI rates and the time patients spend with catheters—
a simple daily reminder for doctors to check whether a catheter is needed—
is used by less than 10% of hospitals. “Until now, we haven’t had national data to tell us what hospitals are doing to prevent this common and costly patient-safety problem,” says lead author Sanjay Saint, M.D., MPH, the director of the U-M/VA Patient Safety Enhancement Program, and leader of several other studies on catheter-related issues. “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.”
Continues Saint, who is also a U-M professor of internal medicine and a research scientist at VA Ann Arbor, “The bottom line for hospitalized patients and their families is, if you have a catheter, ask the doctor or nurse every day if you really still need it.”
Source: University of Michigan Health System