the hidden danger of catheter associated urinary tract infections ii

Last week, our blog discussed how CDC statistics revealed that catheter associated urinary tract infections — or CAUTIs — are among the most common types of hospital-acquired infections, comprising over 30 percent of total infections. We also discussed how untreated CAUTIs can evolve into potentially deadly bloodstream infections, while even CAUTIs treated with antibiotics can still result in the onset of more serious conditions.

The good news in all this is that thanks to the actions of the federal government, more U.S. hospitals are now becoming increasingly aware of the health threat posed by CAUTIs and actively taking steps to ensure that they are eliminated.

That’s because hospitals are not only required to report some infection rates to the federal government for public dissemination, but also because the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is no longer reimbursing hospitals for the costs associated with the treatment of CAUTIs.

Despite all this, however, a recent survey of 2,300 hospitals scattered across the 50 states by the advocacy group Consumer Reports revealed that over 300 hospitals actually earned the lowest ratings, meaning their CAUTI rates were at least double the national average. Here, the authors suggest this may have something to do with hospital officials actively focusing on eliminating other types of infections first.

Whatever the reason, experts indicate that there are steps that patients can take to protect themselves against CAUTIs.

First and foremost, experts advise patients to ask hospital staff if the urinary catheter is necessary on a daily basis, as the longer one is used, the greater the chances of infection. Indeed, they advise patients to ask staff to remove the catheter as soon as they feel that they are ready to either use a bedpan or walk to the restroom on their own.

If the urinary catheter is necessary, experts advise patients to ensure that it’s emptied and cleaned regularly and that every person who handles it has properly sterilized their hands beforehand.

Finally, they advise patients to monitor themselves for fever, as this can often be the first sign of a CAUTI and to be certain to communicate this to hospital staff who may overlook taking their temperature in the otherwise chaotic setting.

Remember that you can seek justice if you’ve suffered serious bodily harm caused by an otherwise preventable hospital-acquired infection that you believe was attributable to hospital negligence.

Source: Consumer Reports, “Watch out for urinary tract infections in hospitals,” June 2014

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