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Prevention of Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections

What is a urinary catheter?

A urinary catheter is a thin tube placed in the bladder to drain urine. Urine drains through the tube into a bag that collects urine. People with urinary catheters have a much higher chance of getting a urinary tract infection than people who do not have a catheter.

What are some of the things that hospitals are doing to prevent catheter-associated urinary tract infections?

To prevent urinary tract infections, doctors and nurses take the following actions.

Catheter insertion

  • Catheters are put in only when necessary and they are removed as soon as possible.

  • Only properly trained persons insert catheters using sterile ("clean") technique.

  • The skin is cleansed prior to the insertion of the catheter.

  • Other methods to drain the urine are sometimes used, such as external catheters in men (these look like condoms and are placed over the penis rather than into the penis) or putting a temporary catheter in to drain the urine and removing it right away (intermittent catheterization).

Catheter Care

  • Healthcare providers clean their hands by washing them with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand rub before and after touching your catheter.

  • Avoid disconnecting the catheter and drain tube. This helps to prevent germs from getting into the catheter tube.

  • The catheter is secured to the leg to prevent pulling on the catheter.

  • Avoid twisting or kinking the catheter.

  • Keep the bag lower than the bladder to prevent urine from back-flowing to the bladder.

  • Empty the bag regularly. The drainage spout should not touch anything while emptying the bag.

What can I do to help prevent catheter-associated urinary tract infections if I have a catheter?

  • Always clean your hands before and after doing catheter care.

  • Always keep your urine bag below the level of you bladder.

  • Do not tug or pull on the tubing.

  • Do not twist or kink the catheter tubing.

  • Ask your healthcare provider each day if you still need the catheter.

If you have questions, please ask you doctor or nurse.