- Wash your hands. It sounds simple, but this is the single most important step in preventing infections. Wash your hands BEFORE and AFTER putting on gloves.
- Use catheters sparingly—only when necessary.
- Use the smallest catheter that will do the job.
- When inserting the catheter, lay out a sterile field and maintain it. If a person is obese or has contractures you may need two people to insert the catheter while maintaining a sterile field.
- Lubricate the tip of the catheter to prevent damage to the urethra during insertion.
- Use good lighting. If you accidentally insert the catheter in the vagina, leave it there as a marker until you have placed a second, sterile catheter.
- Keep the system (catheter, tubing and bag) closed if possible. The system should never be opened simply for convenience.
- Keep the drainage bag below the level of the bladder (but not lying on the floor). Use clean technique when emptying the bag.
- Secure the catheter to prevent bleeding, trauma, tissue damage or bladder spasms that can be triggered by the catheter or balloon. Tape can be hard on the skin; use a commercial device when possible.
- Keep the perineum clean. Treat the catheter area like any other part of the body, washing as you would any other body part.
- If the resident is also incontinent of stool, check frequently to prevent stool from contaminating the catheter.
- Keep residents with catheters away from residents with infections.
If you suspect a urinary tract infection, remove the catheter and replace it with a new one. Get a urine sample for culture and sensitivity from the new catheter. Antibiotics should only be used for infections that are symptomatic.
If catheter leakage occurs, check that the balloon is inflated and that the catheter is in the right place. Make sure the balloon is inflated completely. It is never acceptable to use a 30 cc balloon partially inflated. Before changing to a larger catheter, keep in mind that constipation and fecal impaction may also contribute to leakage. Larger catheters with larger balloons can damage the neck of the bladder.
YOU are the key to good catheter care that can prevent infections and discomfort, and save time and money.