News | January 23, 2008

National Study Looks at Preventing Hospital-Acquired Urinary Tract Infections

January 24, 2008 – Although urinary tract infection (UTI) is the most common hospital-acquired infection in the U.S., little national data exists describing what hospitals are doing to prevent UTI, but a new national study examines the current prevention practices used by hospitals.

The survey showed 56 percent of hospitals responding did not have a system for monitoring patients who had urinary catheters placed, and 74 percent did not monitor catheter duration. Thirty percent of hospitals reported regularly using antimicrobial urinary catheters and portable bladder scanners; 14 percent used condom catheters, and 9 percent used catheter reminders.

VA hospitals were more likely than other hospitals to use portable bladder scanners (49 vs. 29 percent), condom catheters (46 vs. 12 percent), and suprapubic catheters (22 vs. 9 percent). However, non-VA hospitals were more likely to use antimicrobial urinary catheters (30 vs. 14 percent).

Despite the strong link between urinary catheters and subsequent UTI, the study found no widely-used strategy to prevent hospital-acquired UTI. The most commonly used practices of using bladder ultrasound and antimicrobial catheters were each used in fewer than one‐third of hospitals, and urinary catheter reminders, which have proven benefits, were used in less than 10 percent.

The study was conducted by staff from the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System, University of Michigan Medical School and Saint Joseph Mercy Health Care System, Ann Arbor, MI. Written surveys were sent to infection control coordinators in a national random sample of nonfederal U.S. hospitals with an intensive care unit and 50 hospital beds, and to all Veterans Affairs hospitals. The survey asked about practices to prevent hospital-acquired UTI and other device‐associated infections. The response rate was 72 percent overall.

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