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Diseases & Topics

Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infection (CAUTI)

A catheter-associated urinary tract infection is an infection caused by germs that enter a person's urinary system through a tube called a catheter that has been inserted into the bladder to drain urine. These healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) affect organs or structures of the urinary tract, including the kidneys (which filter the blood to make urine), bladder (which stores the urine), and the ureters and urethra that urine flows through.

Urinary tract infections are the most common type of healthcare-associated infection reported to the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) External link. CAUTIs have been associated with increased illness, deaths, healthcare costs and length of hospital stay. Up to one-fourth of hospitalized patients receive urinary catheters during their hospital stay.

Common symptoms of a urinary tract infection are burning or pain in the lower abdomen (that is, below the stomach), fever, burning during urination, or an increase in the frequency of urination.

It is important that healthcare workers always wash their hands thoroughly and ensure sterile conditions when inserting, removing or tending to catheters. The longer a patient has a urinary catheter, the more likely it is that he or she will develop a catheter-associated UTI (CAUTI). So, catheters should only be used when medically necessary and should be removed as soon as they are no longer needed. Patients should keep their own hands clean, avoid handling the catheter or twisting or tugging on the tubing, and immediately report any UTI symptoms to their doctor.

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