A simple way to reduce catheter-associated UTIs

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WHAT'S NEW: We now have an effective way to reduce CAUTIs

Prophylactic use of antibiotics when a urinary catheter is removed appears to reduce the rate of CAUTIs by more than 50% in surgical patients. The 2009 CDC guidelines on CAUTI prevention emphasize the use of appropriate infection control measures and limiting the duration of urinary catheter use.2 Now there are data showing a reduction in the incidence of CAUTIs when prophylactic antibiotics are given during catheter removal.

CAVEATS: Results may not apply to nonsurgical patients

This meta-analysis does not provide enough information to identify which patients are most likely to benefit from antibiotic prophylaxis. Most patients (92%) in this analysis had undergone surgery, but urinary catheterization is common among medically hospitalized patients. Studies of antibiotic prophylaxis at the time of catheter removal in nonsurgical patients are needed to strengthen the recommendation of this practice for all patients.

Some of the studies analyzed may have been biased. The authors determined that most of the studies in their meta-analysis were at high risk of attrition bias because there was potential for systematic differences in withdrawals between the treatment and control groups. In addition, in most studies, the randomization and allocation appeared to be inadequate, which increased the risk for selection bias.

CHALLENGES TO IMPLEMENTATION: Which antibiotics to use, and for how long, remains unclear

Antibiotic choice depends upon institutional policies and local resistance patterns, which complicates making universal recommendations. The optimal duration of treatment also is unknown, although this meta-analysis suggests that prophylaxis for 3 days or less can reduce CAUTI risk.

Catheters impregnated with antimicrobials or with microbial resistance barriers may be an alternative to administering antibiotics at catheter removal, but in preliminary studies, these devices have not been shown to reduce the incidence of CAUTIs.4,5 Increasing antimicrobial resistance also complicates the widespread use of prophylaxis.

The PURLs Surveillance System was supported in part by Grant Number UL1RR024999 from the National Center For Research Resources, a Clinical Translational Science Award to the University of Chicago. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Center For Research Resources or the National Institutes of Health.

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