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Restriction of Foley catheters in older trauma patients improved outcomes



A quality initiative to restrict the use of Foley catheters in middle-aged and geriatric trauma patients with hip fracture reduced the risk of urinary tract infections (UTI) and led to earlier discharge, findings from a study revealed. The results of the study were reported in an abstract scheduled for release at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. The meeting was canceled because of COVID-19.

“We reduced the use of Foley catheters in our target population by more than 50%, which led to a decrease in the rate of hospital-acquired UTI and positively affected other perioperative outcomes,” reported Sanjit R. Konda, MD, an orthopedic surgeon with New York University Langone Health.

The quality initiative was introduced about 2 years ago specifically to reduce the risk of UTI in older patients admitted for femur or hip fractures. Previously at the level 1 trauma center where this quality initiative was introduced, placement of Foley catheters in these types of patients had been routine.

After the policy change, Foley catheters were only offered to these trauma patients 55 years of age or older when more than three episodes or urinary retention had been documented with a bladder scan. Urinary retention was defined as a volume of at least 600 mL.

When outcomes in 184 patients treated in the 15 months after the policy change were compared with 393 treated in the prior 38 months, Foley catheter use was substantially and significantly reduced (43.5% vs. 95.5%; P < .001), Dr. Konda said in an interview.

Although the lower rate of UTI following the policy change fell short of statistical significance (10.33% vs. 14.5%; P = .167), the policy change was associated with a decreased time to surgery (33.27 vs. 38.54 hours; P = .001), shorter length of stay (6.89 vs. 8.34 days; P < .001), and higher rate of home discharge (22.8% vs. 15.6%; P = .038).

When those who avoided a Foley catheter were compared with those who did not after the policy change, there was a significant reduction in UTI (4.81% vs. 17.4%; P = .014). In addition, patients who avoided a Foley catheter had a decreased time to surgery (P = .014), shorter length of stay (P < .001) and an almost 900% greater likelihood of home discharge (odds ratio, 9.9; P < .001).

“This quality initiative does increase the number of bladder scans required, meaning more work for nurses, but the program was developed in collaboration with our nursing staff, who were supportive of the goals,” Dr. Konda reported.

Reducing the incidence of UTI is an important initiative because the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and other third-party payers employ this as a quality metric, according to Dr. Konda. This explains why hospital administrators generally embrace effective strategies to reduce UTI rates.

The improvement in outcomes, including the reduction in UTIs and length of stay, has cost implications, which will be evaluated in a future analysis, according to Dr. Konda.

Although this quality initiative was undertaken in a level 1 trauma center, Dr. Konda believes the same principles can be applied to other settings.

Jennifer A. Meddings, MD, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, agreed. Active in the evaluation of strategies to reduce hospital-acquired complications, Dr. Meddings published a study of procedural appropriateness ratings to guide strategies for improving the likelihood that catheters are employed only when needed (BMJ Qual Saf. 2019;28:56-66).

“In addition to avoiding UTI, reducing unnecessary placement of Foley catheters also eliminates the risk of trauma to the urinary tract,” Dr. Meddings said. This is a complication that is not well appreciated because the trauma is not always documented, according to Dr. Meddings, who believes increased risk of both UTI and urinary tract trauma should discourage use of Foley catheters when there is not a specific indication.

Although there are criteria other than excess bladder volume to determine when to consider a Foley catheter, Dr. Meddings encourages any systematic approach that increases the likelihood that catheters are not placed unnecessarily. She emphasized that a hip fracture by itself “is not a criterion for catheterization.”

Dr. Konda reported a financial relationship with Stryker.

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