Preventing Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections

Laura A. Stokowski, RN, MS


February 03, 2009

Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections

Catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI), a frequent although rarely serious healthcare complication, has moved into the spotlight. The reason? The Centers for Medicare Services (CMS) has announced that it will no longer reimburse healthcare institutions for care related to preventable conditions, including CAUTI, because evidence-based guidelines exist that may effectively prevent these conditions.

It is not surprising that CMS has targeted CAUTI. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common, accounting for about 40% of healthcare-associated (formerly called nosocomial) infections.[1] The overwhelming majority of UTIs are associated with indwelling urinary catheters, in both hospital and community settings, placed for indications such as postoperative bladder drainage, monitoring urine output closely in critically ill patients, or managing ongoing retention or incontinence disorders.[1,2]

Although CAUTI may not be directly associated with septicemia or increased mortality, CAUTI is responsible for raising hospital costs, prolonging length of stay, and complicating the recovery of critically ill patients.[3] The cumulative impact of CAUTI is significant, and the loss of reimbursement for treating CAUTI along with the costs of preventing CAUTI will surely be felt by hospitals.


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