Catheter Associated Urinary Tract Infection (CA-UTI)

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in the urinary system, which includes the bladder (stores urine) and kidneys (filter the blood to make urine). If germs enter these areas, an infection can occur. If you have a urinary catheter, germs can travel along the catheter and cause an infection in your bladder or your kidney. This is called a catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CA-UTI).

Who is involved?

Our Quality and Patient Safety team is continuously thinking of ways to improve how we provide the highest quality care to patients in a safe environment. To minimize harm to our patients from invasive devices, we have a dedicated team of infection preventionists and hospital epidemiologists who work with clinicians along with quality and patient staff.  

How are we monitoring the care we provide?

At Tufts Medical Center, we are committed to reducing CAUTIs. Our dedicated team works to:

  • Monitor CAUTIs through a computer program that assists in alerting us to cases to investigate as well as rounds with the microbiology staff.
  • Review every central line or urinary catheter infection with the care area and clinicians. 
  • Run task forces for CAUTIs that review data, cases, and new products and practices.
  • Establish policies that explain how to minimize the use of central lines and urinary catheters.
  • Produce dashboards that show updates on infection rates, how many lines and catheters we use, and how close we are to our goal of zero infections.  
  • Develop an annual infection risk assessment plan that takes into account changes in treatments, patient population and how well we did the previous year in fighting these infections.
  • Collaborate with pediatric hospitals, Solutions for Patient Safety, which allows us to share data as well as best practices.
  • Observe patients after they have been discharged.

What measures are we taking to improve?

Based on your individual risk, we may implement a number of strategies to help prevent infections. These include:

  • Catheter insertion
    • Put catheters in only when necessary and remove as soon as possible.
    • Have only those properly trained insert catheters using sterile technique.
    • Clean the skin in the area where the catheter will be inserted.
    • Catheter care
      • Clean hands by washing them with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand rub before and after touching your catheter.
      • Avoid disconnecting the catheter and drain tube.
      • Secure the catheter to the leg.
      • Avoid twisting the catheter.
      • Keep the bag lower than the bladder.
      • Empty bag regularly.

How can patients and families contribute?  

In order to prevent a Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infection:

  • Always clean your hands before and after doing catheter care.
  • Always keep your urine bag below the level of your bladder.
  • Don’t tug or pull on the tubing.
  • Don’t twist tubing.
  • Ask your doctor each day if you still need the catheter.

Before you leave the hospital:

  • Make sure you understand how to care for your catheter.
  • Make sure you know who to contact if you have questions or problems after you get home.