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3 Reasons Urinary Catheters are Overused in Hospitals

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, May 28, 2013

Three cultural habits within hospitals, including "general disinterest" among staff, can hinder catheter-associated urinary tract infections prevention efforts, researchers find.

It's not surprising that Michigan's hospital caregivers adopted proven strategies to prevent catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs) faster than hospitals in other states, and had lower infections overall. It was Michigan, after all, that launched the 2007 Keystone Project, which has become a model for reducing infections nationwide.

But even in the Wolverine state, three troublesome obstacles continue to block the use of best practices in most settings.

That's according to a pair of studies published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine by Michigan researchers who used survey responses and in-person interviews in hospitals.

The survey was conducted two years after implementation of the Keystone Bladder Bundle Initiative that dramatically reduced CAUTIs in that state and which has since been the topic of numerous other infection control projects around the country, such On the CUSP (Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program to Eliminate Healthcare-associated Infections.)

Though the findings generally noted improvement across the nation, "we found there's a lot more room for improvement" in non-Michigan hospitals as well as those in Michigan, says Sanjay Saint, MD, a principal author in both studies who directs the Veterans Administration and University of Michigan Patient Safety Enhancement Program. He adds that success in preventing CAUTI is low-tech, requiring cultural changes rather than structural innovations or the purchase of expensive equipment.

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