Hospitals don’t have standard strategy to prevent UTIs

By Tom Nordlie • Published: May 30th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Hospital-acquired infections are big news these days.

But here’s something you probably haven’t heard…

The most common type is the urinary tract infection, or U-T-I, which accounts for almost forty percent of hospital-acquired infections.

U-T-Is generally occur in patients with urinary catheters, which drain urine from the bladder.

Up to twenty-five percent of hospitalized patients receive one.

Most U-T-Is are simply painful. But sometimes they lead to kidney infections, causing permanent damage.

Despite the prevalence of U-T-Is, hospitals have no standard strategy to prevent them.

That’s the conclusion of a study in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Researchers surveyed more than five-hundred hospitals.

Almost sixty percent didn’t have a system for monitoring which patients had urinary catheters.

Three-quarters of them didn’t monitor how long catheters were in place.

That’s important because the longer catheters are left in, the more likely U-T-Is will develop.

Other preventive measures, such as antimicrobial catheters, were used by less than one-third of the hospitals.

Perhaps the best strategy to prevent U-T-Is, researchers say, would be to limit urinary catheterization.

Reminder systems that alert doctors or nurses to remove catheters as soon as possible have proved successful.

But fewer than ten percent of hospitals use them.

So there’s plenty of room for improvement.

It’s true that U-T-Is aren’t the most serious infections out there. But that doesn’t make them unimportant.

Because when you check into a hospital, the only thing you want to catch is some cable T-V.