Catheter-Associated Infections

Catheter–Associated Urinary Tract and Blood–Stream Infection

 

Catheter–Associated Urinary Tract Infection

 

A urinary tract infection (also called UTI) is an infection in the urinary system, which includes the bladder, which stores the urine, and the kidneys, which filter the blood to make urine. Germs—for example, bacteria or yeasts—do not normally live in these areas. But if germs are introduced, 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. In that case it is called a catheter–-associated urinary tract infection, or CA–UTI.

 

 What is a urinary catheter?

 

A urinary catheter is a thin tube placed in the bladder to drain urine. Urine drains through the tube into a bag that collects the urine. A urinary catheter may be used:

  • If you are not able to urinate on your own.
  • To measure the amount of urine that you make, for example, during intensive care.
  • During and after some types of surgery.
  • During some tests of the kidneys and blad­der.

People with urinary catheters have a much higher chance of getting a urinary tract infec­tion than people who don’t have a catheter.

 

 How do I get a catheter–associated urinary tract infection (CA–UTI)?  

 If germs enter the urinary tract, they may cause an infection. Many of the germs that cause a catheter–associated urinary tract infection are common germs found in your intestines that do not usually cause an infec­tion there. Germs can enter the urinary tract when the catheter is being put in or while the catheter remains in the bladder.

 

What are the symptoms of a urinary tract infection?

 

Some of the common symptoms of a urinary tract infection are:

  • Burning or pain in the lower abdomen (that is, below the stomach).
  • Fever.
  • Bloody urine may be a sign of infection, but is also caused by other problems.
  • Burning during urination or an increase in the frequency of urination after the cath­eter is removed.

 Sometimes people with catheter–associated urinary tract infections do not have these symptoms of infection.

Can catheter–associated urinary tract infections be treated?

 Yes, most catheter–associated urinary tract infections can be treated with antibiotics and removal or change of the catheter. Your doc­tor will determine which antibiotic is best for you.

 

What can I do to help prevent catheter–associated urinary tract infections if I have a catheter?

  • Always clean your hands before and after doing catheter care.
  • Always keep your urine bag below the level of your bladder.
  • Do not tug or pull on the tubing.
  • Do not twist or kink the catheter tubing.

Catheter–Associated Bloodstream Infections 

(also known as “Central Line–Associated Bloodstream Infections”)

 

A “central line” or “central catheter” is a tube that is placed into a patient’s large vein, usually in the neck, chest, arm, or groin. The catheter is often used to draw blood or give fluids or medications. It may be left in place for several weeks.

 

A bloodstream infection can occur when bacteria or other germs travel down a “central line” and enter the blood. If you develop a catheter–associated bloodstream infection, you may become ill with fevers and chills or the skin around the catheter may become sore and red.

 

Can a catheter–related bloodstream infection be treated?

 

A catheter–associated bloodstream infection is serious, but often can be successfully treated with antibiotics. The catheter might need to be removed if you develop an infection.

 

What can I do to help prevent a catheter–associated bloodstream infection?

 

Ask your doctors and nurses to explain why you need the catheter and how long you will have it.

  • Make sure you understand how to care for the catheter before leaving the hospital. For example, ask for instructions on showering or bathing with the catheter and how to change the catheter dressing.
  • Make sure you know who to contact if you have questions or problems after you get home.
  • Make sure you wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol–based hand rub before handling your catheter.
  • Watch for the signs and symptoms of catheter–associated bloodstream infection, such as soreness or redness at the catheter site or fever. Call your healthcare provider immediately if any occur.

 What do I need to do when I go home from the hospital?

 

Some patients are sent home from the hospital with a catheter in order to continue their treatment. If you go home with a catheter, your doctors and nurses will explain everything you need to know about taking care of your catheter.

  • Make sure you understand how to care for the catheter before leaving the hospital. For example, ask for instructions on showering or bathing with the catheter and how to change the catheter dressing.
  • Make sure you know who to contact if you have questions or problems after you get home.
  • Make sure you wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol–based hand rub before handling your catheter.
  • Watch for the signs and symptoms of catheter–associated bloodstream infection, such as soreness or redness at the catheter site or fever, and call your healthcare provider immediately if any occur.

 

 

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