Successful reduction in catheter-associated urinary tract infections: focus on nurse-directed catheter removal

Am J Infect Control. 2013 Dec;41(12):1178-81. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2013.03.296. Epub 2013 Jun 13.


Background: Despite using sterile technique for catheter insertion, closed drainage systems, and structured daily care plans, catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs) regularly occur in acute care hospitals. We believe that meaningful reduction in CAUTI rates can only be achieved by reducing urinary catheter use.

Methods: We used an interventional study of a hospital-wide, multidisciplinary program to reduce urinary catheter use and CAUTIs on all patient care units in a 300-bed, community teaching hospital in Connecticut. Our primary focus was the implementation of a nurse-directed urinary catheter removal protocol. This protocol was linked to the physician's catheter insertion order. Three additional elements included physician documentation of catheter insertion criteria, a device-specific charting module added to physician electronic progress notes, and biweekly unit-specific feedback on catheter use rates and CAUTI rates in a multidisciplinary forum.

Results: We achieved a 50% hospital-wide reduction in catheter use and a 70% reduction in CAUTIs over a 36-month period, although there was wide variation from unit to unit in catheter reduction efforts, ranging from 4% (maternity) to 74% (telemetry).

Conclusion: Urinary catheter use, and ultimately CAUTI rates, can be effectively reduced by the diligent application of relatively few evidence-based interventions. Aggressive implementation of the nurse-directed catheter removal protocol was associated with lower catheter use rates and reduced infection rates.

Keywords: CAUTI; Catheter-associated urinary tract infections; Hospital-acquired urinary tract infections; Nurse-directed catheter removal protocol.

MeSH terms

  • Catheter-Related Infections / prevention & control*
  • Connecticut
  • Humans
  • Nurses*
  • Urinary Catheterization / methods*
  • Urinary Catheterization / statistics & numerical data
  • Urinary Tract Infections / prevention & control*