Dangerous Infections From Hospital Catheters

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Miscommunication Among Hospital Staff Can Lead to Serious Patient Infections 

Researchers from the University of Michigan investigated infections caused by catheters (urethral or suprapubic) showing that the devices may cause unnecessary infections to patients due to poor communication of health care professionals. The findings were first published in the July 2019 volume of the American Journal of Critical Care, mimicking what previous studies have said and agreeing that when catheters remain in too long, infection is more likely to follow.

Indwelling catheters are a type of catheter commonly used in both hospital and long-term care settings as a urinary assistance device that collects urine from the bladder and disposes of it through a drainage bag. A nurse, or another trained healthcare provider, is the person responsible for performing a safe catheter insertion or removal through the urethra or sometimes through a tiny hole in the abdomen.

Milisa Manojlovich, a lead researcher on the topic and coauthor of the report, said, “People get catheters all the time, but meanwhile they cause a lot of harm, so we need to talk about them. Any foreign object in the body carries an infection risk, and a catheter can serve as a superhighway for bacteria to enter the bloodstream or body.”

The Known Risks of Catheter Use

To gather their findings, the team interviewed nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and physicians. They questioned problems monitoring catheter use and communicating among their teams about patients’ medical devices.

All interview respondents said communication breakdowns most commonly delayed the removal of unnecessary catheters which then leads to a higher risk of infection. Communication barriers are believed to exist for two reasons.

  1. poor relationships between doctors and nurses
  2. hierarchical differences that prevent nurses from being present when health care teams review patient care plans

Some of the medical workers said electronic medical records can also create discourse between nurses and doctors.

Many patients, or their caregivers, will request a catheter be used in hopes the device will ease with toileting needs, but little do they know the risks a catheter device carries, such as:

  • urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • pain
  • trauma
  • bleeding
  • headache
  • chills
  • allergic reactions
  • low back pain
  • bladder stones
  • kidney damage
  • urethra injuries
  • septicemia (infection of the urinary tract, kidneys, or blood)

Both one-time use catheters and reusable catheters should be clean and adequately handled and changed or removed when necessary to reduce these complications. A patient’s body also requires cleaning before inserting a catheter.

Because they are trained and experienced, medical professionals are expected to perform safe catheter care practices for their patients. When this level is not provided, and a severe injury or infection occurs, preventable medical errors and malpractice may have occurred.

Cather Use Medical Malpractice in Hospitals

If you or a loved one is the victim of medical malpractice, you are entitled to receive payment for your medical expenses and other associated costs. In the case of catheter mis-use or a catheter caused infection, serious illness or death can occur if the patient is not quickly treated.

To request a meeting with one of our medical malpractice attorneys, please call us at 312-332-2872 or complete an online case consultation form. We can conduct a free, no-obligation analysis of your situation to reveal your potential reimbursement for the harm caused by medical malpractice.

Also read: Most Sepsis Cases Occur In Hospitals

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