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Don't forget the catheter


Is hospital care getting better?…more nurses, fewer work-related injuries…hand hygiene education program gets a thumbs-up…and more.



A gentle reminder can help reduce the amount of time urinary catheters stay in place, according to new study findings. Previous research has shown that because physicians often forget which patients have catheters and how long they've been in place, catheters aren't always removed as soon as they could be.

The study involved 5,678 patients in four units at an academic medical center. In two units, health care teams got written reminders about patients with urinary catheters. The two control units operated without the reminders.

After adjusting for age, sex, and length of stay, researchers found that catheter use decreased by about 8% in the units operating with reminders. In the units operating without reminders, the average proportion of time patients had catheters increased by 15%. Patients in both groups had similar rates of recatheterizations.

Because urinary catheters are a leading source of hospital-acquired infection, they should be removed as soon as possible. Researchers recommend that automatic reminders be built into computerized physician order systems and urge hospitals that don't yet have computerized order systems to use written reminders instead.

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A reminder reduces urinary catheterization in hospitalized patients, Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, S Saint, et al., August 2005.
    © 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.