Newswise — One in four Americans in the hospital right now has a urinary catheter. One percent of them will get a urinary tract infection from that catheter. All of those will require antibiotics. A few may suffer life-threatening complications.
And with every new case, UTIs will retain their title of “most common hospital-acquired infection,” responsible for 40 percent of infections related to hospitalization.
But despite all this, a new study finds, 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.
The study provides the first-ever national snapshot of hospital efforts to prevent urinary catheter-related infections. It’s published in the January issue of the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases by a team led by patient safety experts from the University of Michigan Health System and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.
The picture that develops from this snapshot is chaotic, with nearly half of hospitals lacking a system that tells them which patients currently have a catheter, and three-quarters lacking a system that can tell them how long a patient has had a catheter or whether one has been removed. Nearly one-third of hospitals didn’t even track the UTI rates in their patient populations.
Meanwhile, less than 10 percent of hospitals used an approach that has been shown to reduce UTI rates and decrease the time patients spend on catheters: a simple reminder that asks doctors every day whether a patient’s catheter is necessary, or even makes catheter removal the default action unless a physician says otherwise.