In a 300-bed Nebraska rehabilitation hospital, nurses, occupational and physical therapists, case managers and education staff have successfully implemented a team approach to dramatically reduce infections from urinary catheters, the most common type of infection contracted from healthcare settings.
According to an abstract presented at the 38th Annual Educational Conference and International Meeting of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), the team reduced catheter associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs) by 89 percent over a 14-month period.
The team worked to decrease the use of catheters, which are a known risk factor for UTIs, discontinuing their use unless medically necessary. In cases where urinary catheters were necessary, the team educated nursing staff, family members and patients on proper care to reduce the chance of infection. The team was led by infection preventionist Kristina Felix, BA, RN, CRRN, CIC.
When the project started in February 2010, the CAUTI prevalence rate was 36.6 percent but dropped to 6.6 percent three months later. The original pilot concluded in April 2011. The team identified reasons for catheter use when medical necessity was in question. These factors included patients admitted to rehabilitation settings from acute care facilities with catheters in place, and patients whose families viewed catheters as a more convenient way to manage incontinence.
This task force improved bladder management protocols and standards, balancing the medical requirements of the patient with the need for patients to be infection-free, continually re-assessing the appropriateness for each catheter.
Felix estimates that this program prevented up to thirty UTIs each month and saved the facility about $1,000 per infection avoided. No additional costs were associated with implementing these interventions.