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Hospital Reminders Lower Urinary Catheter Risk

System prompts doctors to remove the devices sooner

FRIDAY, July 29, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Urinary catheters are often necessary for hospitalized patients, but risk of infection rises with extended use. A new study finds that a simple reminder system can help doctors remember to remove these catheters after two days, reducing patient risk and discomfort.

"Doctors are responsible for ordering the removal of catheters, but research has shown that many of them forget which patients have catheters and how long they have them," lead researcher Dr. Sanjay Saint, a hospitalist at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System and an associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School, said in a prepared statement. "Our reminder system helps doctors do the right thing," Saint said.

In their 16-month study, his team of researchers found that having nurses flag patients' records with a written reminder to doctors resulted in many patients having catheters for a much shorter time.

The written reminder system is inexpensive and the cost is more than made up by the savings a hospital achieves by reducing catheter-related infections, the researchers add.

Their findings appear in the August issue of the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Public Safety.

It is estimated that, at any given time, about 25 percent of hospital patients have urinary catheters. Many patients have the catheters in for much longer than they need them, which increases their risk of suffering a urinary tract or blood infection, the researchers said.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about urinary catheters.

SOURCE: University of Michigan Health System, news release, July 29, 2005
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