Indwelling urinary catheter maintenance

The risk of infection increases by 5% for each day that a catheter remains in place, and the length of time that a catheter remains in place is the most important risk factor for the development of catheter-associated urinary tract infection.  Up to half of patients with an indwelling catheter for 5 days or longer will have bacteria or fungus in their urine. 

Therefore, once an indwelling urinary catheter is inserted, ongoing vigilance is needed to reduce the risks of both infectious and non-infectious complications. Many times physicians are not aware that patients’ urinary catheters are still in place, so we begin this section with assessment strategies to maintain awareness of catheter presence and determine the ongoing need for an indwelling catheter. 

In this section we also provide evidence-based guidance for catheter care and securement, drainage, transportation with a catheter, and talking points for patients and families related to indwelling urinary catheters. While it is better for the patient not to have an indwelling urinary catheter at all, when catheters are necessary our recommendations in this section will help minimize risks associated with catheter use.

Additional documentation (PDF)