Catheterization reduction program decreases mortality, research shows

A Canadian geriatrics unit reduced catheter use and subsequently found its mortality rates decreasing, a new study shows.

Toronto-based Sinai Health Systems' elder acute care unit was catheterizing 25% of its patients, and up to half those catheterizations were not needed, according to program co-founder and University of Toronto professor Richard Norman, M.D.

The program specified including information about catheters on electronic healthcare records and educating providers on the risks associated with catheterizations. During the study period, 24,449 patients were admitted to the hospital medicine, surgery, or geriatrics units and 12% received catheters. Reducing catheters resulted in lower mortality rates in all three units.

“It's making the right thing the easy thing to do,” co-author Samir Sinha, M.D., and director of geriatrics at SHS's Mount Sinai.

Norman says catheters are commonly ordered by physicians because they provide an easy solution to help patients with toileting. But the devices leave many patients more vulnerable to catheter-associated urinary tract infections. Providers can no longer be reimbursed by Medicare for inserting a catheter, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has said it wants to reduce CAUTIs by 25% over the next four years.