Nursing Home Urinary Catheter Infections Dropped After Adoption of Prevention Efforts: Study

New research suggest that fewer nursing home residents are suffering dangerous and debilitating urinary tract infections (UTI) from catheters, after a new preventative project was adopted at hundreds of long-term care facilities throughout the United States. 

In a study published this month in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers from the University of Michigan and the Ann Arbor Veteran Affairs Healthcare System report that the patient safety project resulted in a 54% drop in the rate of catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs).

The reductions follow the adoption of a project by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), known as the Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program (CUSP), which was carried out in more than 400 long-term care facilities across 38 states.

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The project is designed to promote leadership, teamwork and improved communication and safety practices among staff and nursing homes, hospitals and long-term care facilities. It has been previously used to reduce the rates of central line catheter infections, according to an AHRQ press release.

According to the findings, the rate of catheter-associated urinary tract infections dropped from about 6.4 to 3.3 per 1,000 catheter days; an overall reduction of about 54%. In addition, 276 of the 368 hospitals, or 75%, had at least a 40% reduction in catheter-associated UTIs over the course of the study. These improvements occurred without a substantial change in the rate of patient catheterization, according to the findings.

“The interventions used in this large, national community-based nursing home implementation project, which relied on both technical and socioadaptive interventions, reduced catheter-associated UTI rates in settings where utilization is low but catheter use is prolonged,” researchers concluded. “Although this project focused on reducing catheter-associated UTIs, a similar approach with an evidence-based implementation framework can be used to address other resident safety issues in community-based nursing homes.”

The findings come after a study published a year ago by the Columbia University School of Nursing which found that an average of five percent of nursing home patients suffer from urinary tract infections during any given month, indicating that many of the cases may be caused by a failure to enact preventative policies that monitor and mitigate the possibility of infection.

An UTI is when bacteria enters the urinary tract through the urethra and moves up the tract to infect the bladder or kidney, commonly leading to symptoms of fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, and severe abdominal pain. However, if left untreated by antibiotics, patients may become dehydrated and the infection could enter the bloodstream and become fatal.

It is more common for women to suffer from UTIs than men. In fact, an anticipated one out of every five women experience an UTI at some point in their life and this often results in a more common occurrence.

Nursing homes are expected to take proactive measures to protect residents from the risks of such infections, and failing to do so could be considered a sign of nursing home neglect.


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