Reduction of inappropriate urinary catheter use at a Veterans Affairs hospital through a multifaceted quality improvement project

Clin Infect Dis. 2011 Jun;52(11):1283-90. doi: 10.1093/cid/cir188.


Background: Foley catheter (FC) use is a modifiable risk factor for hospital-acquired urinary tract infection, the most common type of nosocomial infection. It is unknown whether sustained, hospital-wide reductions in FC use are achievable by combining interventions with demonstrated short-term effectiveness in selected units.

Methods: A multifaceted quality improvement project to decrease unnecessary FC use and increase order documentation was instituted throughout the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center in March 2005, after a >2-year baseline period. Bundled interventions included multiple types of education, system redesign, rewards, and feedback (phases I and II), plus, in phase III, involvement of a dedicated FC nurse.

Results: The daily prevalence of FC use dropped steeply during intervention phase I (5.5 months), from a 15.2% baseline mean to a 9.3% nadir, but rebounded quickly during the subsequent hiatus phase (1.2 months). It dropped again (mean, 13.6%) during intervention phase II (27.3 months) and even further (mean, 12.0%) during intervention phase III (22.8 months) (P ≤ .001, phase II or III vs baseline). Compared with baseline, during phase III (with the dedicated FC nurse) the mean daily percentages of nonordered and nonindicated FCs dropped from 17% to 5.1% and from 15% to 1.2%, respectively. During phases II and III combined, an estimated total of 6691 FC days were avoided.

Conclusions: Significant hospital-wide reductions in total and inappropriate FC use and improved FC order documentation were achieved through a multicomponent campaign. The greatest and most sustained improvements accompanied the involvement of a dedicated FC nurse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Catheters, Indwelling / adverse effects*
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control*
  • Education, Medical, Continuing
  • Hospitals, Veterans
  • Humans
  • Quality Improvement
  • Urinary Catheterization / adverse effects
  • Urinary Catheterization / methods*
  • Urinary Catheterization / standards
  • Urinary Tract Infections / prevention & control*