Four Steps to Prevent Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections
There are four basic guidelines caregivers and medical professionals should follow to prevent catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs) in patients.
“A urinary tract infection is an infection in the urinary system, which includes the bladder and the kidneys. Germs do not normally live in these areas; but if germs are introduced, an infection can occur,” according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
When germs are introduced into the urinary system by a urinary catheter, a CAUTI occurs.
CAUTI Symptoms and Treatments
Symptoms of a urinary tract infection may include one of the following (or more):
- A feeling of burning or pain in the lower abdomen or back
- Bloody urine
- Urinary frequency and urgency
- Painful urination
If a person uses catheters because of nerve damage, is bed-bound, or is unable to communicate, the symptoms of CAUTIs are crucial to spot early. These patients may not be able to feel or explain their symptoms, and they may not be visible to the naked eye.
CAUTIs are treatable with antibiotics. Also, the catheter must be removed if it is either indwelling or a Foley catheter. Prevention is the best medicine, though, especially if the person has recurrent UTIs.
How to Prevent Catheter-Associated UTIs
Preventing CAUTIs is a four-step process:
- Only use catheters when necessary and remove as promptly as possible.
- Trained professionals should always use the “clean” technique of catheterization.
- Clean the skin around the genitals and urethra to prevent the introduction of bacteria.
- Use other methods of urine removal, such as: a condom catheter, a disposable and sterile intermittent (in and out) catheter, or if possible, a bed pan.
Additional CAUTI Guidelines
Cleanliness on the part of the medical professional is also crucial. When washing your hands, experts recommend using regular soap and water, rather than antibacterial soaps and antibacterial hand sanitizers. If you must use a hand sanitizer, only use one that is alcohol based. If you’re a patient, and you don’t see your caregiver wash their hands, ask them to.
To prevent CAUTIs, medical professionals must also take precautions with the catheter itself and any drainage materials. Drainage bags must be kept below the patient, so urine doesn’t backflow. Additionally, you have to keep catheters and drainage tubes from “kinking” up. Empty drainage bags regularly, making sure the drain port doesn’t touch anything.
These same personal sanitation guidelines also apply to individuals who self-cath.
If you think you have a urinary tract infection, make an appointment to see your doctor immediately. These kinds of infections become serious and painful quickly and will not usually remedy themselves.
For information on antibacterial catheters, please visit our urinary catheter supplies page.
SuLauren Wilson is the founder of Finnegan Medical Supply, an online medical supply store based in Little Rock, Ark. She blogs regularly on issues affecting the company’s patients. Although, she has many years of experience in the healthcare industry, she is not a licensed medical professional, and the content of her posts should not be considered medical advice.