Urinary tract infection prevention slow

March 30, 2013 at 2:39 PM
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ANN ARBOR, Mich., March 30 (UPI) -- Urinary tract infections are among the most easily preventable U.S. hospital-acquired infections, but progress against such infections is slow, researchers say.

Lead author Sarah Krein -- research associate professor at the University of Michigan's Department of Internal Medicine, the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System and of the University of Michigan's School of Nursing -- and colleagues identified barriers hospitals face in implementing strategies to reduce urinary catheter use.

Other research at the University of Michigan found Michigan hospitals were more likely to participate in efforts to reduce catheter-associated infections by using bladder-scanners, as well as reminders or stop-orders to ensure catheter use was discontinued at an appropriate time.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, aims to reduce catheter-associated urinary tract infections by 25 percent in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. So far, approximately 800 hospitals, of more than 5,000 U.S. hospitals, are participating, Krein said.

The study, published in the journal Internal Medicine, found common barriers included difficulty engaging nurse and physicians to change their practice styles, patient and family requests for indwelling catheters -- long-term catheters -- and emergency departments' customary process on catheter use.

"Every hospital has its own approach to catheter use that's become ingrained into that specific institution's culture of care," Krein said in a statement. "Changing those expectations and customs won't happen overnight. We hope to identify ways to make the transition to new effective practices smoother and easier in order to reduce urinary tract infections in hospitals across the country."

Urinary tract infections, which often arise from catheters used to empty bladders for hospitalized patients, are responsible for 35 percent of infections related to hospitalization and can lead to serious complications.

Aiming to cut expenses and improve care, a 2008 Medicare policy stopped paying hospitals for the cost of treating preventable urinary tract infections that develop in hospitalized Medicare patients, Krein said.

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