Hospitals Lag in Preventing Common Infection

The study from a team led by patient safety experts from the University of Michigan Health System and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System provides the first-ever national snapshot of hospital efforts to prevent urinary catheter-related infections.

The picture that develops from this snapshot is chaotic, with nearly half of hospitals lacking a system that tells them which patients currently have a catheter, and three-quarters lacking a system that can tell them how long a patient has had a catheter or whether one has been removed. Nearly one-third of hospitals didn’t even track the UTI rates in their patient populations.

Meanwhile, less than 10 percent of hospitals used an approach that has been shown to reduce UTI rates and decrease the time patients spend on catheters: a simple reminder that asks doctors every day whether a patient’s catheter is necessary, or even makes catheter removal the default action unless a physician says otherwise.

“Until now, we haven’t had national data to tell us what hospitals are doing to prevent this common and costly patient-safety problem,” says lead author Sanjay Saint, M.D., MPH, the director of the U-M/VA Patient Safety Enhancement Program. “Now that we have these data, it’s clear that there’s no one dominant practice that’s being used, including physician reminders, which have proven benefit and make a lot of common sense.”

Continues Saint, who is also a U-M professor of internal medicine and a research scientist at VA Ann Arbor, “The bottom line for hospitalized patients and their families is, if you have a catheter, ask the doctor or nurse every day if you really still need it.”

For hospitals, the authors say they hope the study puts needed focus on the opportunities for improvement.; Source: University of Michigan Health System