This cohort study included 254 adult patients who used a urinary catheter (UC) during their hospitalization in a university hospital ward. The following were evaluated: catheter use, indication, time of permanence, urinary infection density, mortality, and hospital stay. Throughout the studied period, 14% of the hospitalized patients received UC, totaling 1735 UC-day. In 23% of cases, the procedure had not been prescribed, and neither was its indication documented. The average time of UC use was 6.8 days. Among clinical patients, the indication for UC was inadequate in 29%; time of permanence was considered inadequate in 49% of clinical patients and in 66.9% of surgical patients. Patients with inadequate UC use had more urinary tract infections (RR 1.86 IC95% 1.4 to 3.04) and longer hospital stay (11.9 and 8.9 days, p=0.002). This study permitted to identify flaws in the care process that are potentially changeable and important to avoid urinary tract infection by urinary catheter use.