The other day, I was watching my colleague Dr. Sanjay Saint on Medscape and began thinking, “How can we better communicate that urinary tract infections (UTIs) are more than just nuisance infections, and that they are preventable?” So, I want to focus this blog post on one of the most common, yet most preventable, of the healthcare-associated infections catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs).
In looking at the overall number of healthcare-associated UTIs, I am overwhelmed by both the burden and the myths associated with catheter use. Today, UTIs account for more than 30 percent of HAIs in acute care hospitals, and most of these are caused by urinary catheters. Perhaps the fact that many providers out there still believe that certain conditions, such as incontinence, are best managed with catheters is contributing to the CAUTI burden. The reality is that because infection control measures – including removing catheters as soon as possible – aren’t always followed, CAUTIs are causing illness among patients, longer hospital stays, and unnecessary antibiotic use. And more antibiotic exposure puts patients at greater risk for developing multidrug-resistant organisms and Clostridium difficile infection.
The 2009 Guideline for Prevention of CAUTIs, developed and released by CDC’s Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC), is an excellent resource for healthcare facilities – both acute and non-acute care settings (e.g., long-term care, home healthcare). The recommendations in the CAUTI Guideline should be followed by any facility that cares for patients requiring urinary catheterization and should be the starting point for facilities to prevent UTIs.
Does your facility have a comprehensive prevention program for preventing CAUTIs? Are you confident that measures are in place to prevent CAUTIs for patients requiring catheterization? Are you and your facility doing everything possible to “prevent the preventable” CAUTI?