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Patients Are Given Catheter Longer Than Necessary

Hospital staff may be keeping patients on urinary catheters longer than necessary, increasing their risks //to urinary tract infections and blood infections, said a new study published in the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety. The study says that a simple reminder note put by the nursing staff for the doctors might solve this problem.

Research showed that about 25 percent of hospital patients at any given time have urinary catheters — and a substantial proportion of patients have them much longer than they really need them. An estimated 40 percent of infections developed by patients during their hospital stay are urinary tract infections, and most of these infections are due to urinary catheters.

The researchers said that the written-reminder system isn’t expensive, and that its cost equals or is less than the savings that a hospital could achieve by reducing infections among patients. Doctors are responsible for ordering the removal of catheters, but research has shown that many of them forget which patients have catheters and how long they have them. The reminder system installed by the researchers helps doctors do the right thing, reports the research.

The controlled trial, carried out for 16 months in four wards of the U-M’s University Hospital, involved patients who had been admitted for surgery or with general ailments including kidney and lung problems. Two of the wards used the reminder system and two did not, but a nurse checked the records of every patient each day.

The first eight months of the study gathered baseline data on catheter use. Then, for the next eight months on the two wards where reminders were used, the nurse attached a pre-written order and a sign-here sticker to each patient’s chart every day after the catheter had been in place for 48 hours.

The results showed that the proportion of each patient’s hospital stay that involved a catheter went down by 7.6 percent
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