New strategies to reduce catheter infections and hospital costs

Payal Patel, MD, an infectious disease physician at Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Health, is the lead researcher behind new recommendations for preventing catheter-associated urinary tract infections at acute care hospitals worldwide. Employing these essential practices, Dr. Patel asserts, can save hospitals money and improve patient outcomes.

The recommendations are the first major update to the guidelines since 2014, led through a collaboration between the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, the American Hospital Association, and The Joint Commission. 

"Urinary catheters can be associated with infection and also with non-infectious harms like trauma and obstruction," Dr. Patel said in an Oct. 31 news release. "Prevention of infection related to use of typical indwelling urinary catheters is multidisciplinary."

Infections related to urinary catheters can increase a patient's length of stay, worsen outcomes and increase costs to patients and hospitals. 

The new recommendations also include the use of a model known as "Disrupting the Lifecycle of the Urinary Catheter," which outlines alternatives to catheters, provides guidance for safely inserting and caring for catheters, and underscores the timely removal of them.

Other recommendations include:

  • Performing a facility-wide catheter-associated urinary tract infection risk assessment and subsequently developing policy to support improvements.

  • Ensuring equipment and supplies are available, easy to locate and easy for patients to navigate while maneuvering with it.

  • Implementing procedures that are clear and outline steps for assessing catheter appropriateness, insertion technique, maintenance care, and timely removal when it is no longer necessary for a patient.

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