Reports From the Field

Cutting CAUTIs in Critical Care



). These guidelines provided clear direction on when to consider taking out catheters in ventilated patients and encouraged nurses to reconsider what is “critically ill.”

Both nurses and physicians were concerned about accurate measurement of output, specifically in surgical patients. The use of scales to weigh and measure output from an incontinent patient’s pads was helpful but sometimes inconvenient. From our surgeons' perspective, not having immediate hourly measurements of urine output to monitor risk for hypovolemia from third spacing of fluid or from abdominal compartment syndrome was not acceptable. Because of this concern, we did not see a decrease in early catheter removal among surgical patients. Daily conversations with nurses and surgeons at the bedside continue to be key to removing catheters as soon as the surgeon is comfortable that the patient is out of risk for hypovolemia.


Within the first month we saw an immediate drop in catheter utilization and had zero CAUTIs, but during the next 2 months there was a return to our previous rates (Figure 2 and Figure 3 [figures show combined mixed and cardiovascular ICU rates due to reporting requirements]).

During our team meeting, we identified that in the first month one-on-one conversations were consistently held with the bedside nurse, but in the following 2 months the auditor often fell back on chart review instead of speaking face-to-face with the bedside nurse. Relying on chart audits alone did not maintain our compliance, and the manager and nurse champions
refocused their efforts on daily bedside auditing conversations.

Although nursing is at the heart of this engagement, it is the combined efforts of all disciplines that promote the reduction of CAUTIs and improve patient outcomes. When our CAUTI counts plateaued at 10 annually in 2014–2015, we reached out to physicians and found that we had not adequately educated our medical and surgical staff of our project and goals. With the backing of a supportive and vocal ICU director, physician engagement has increased and there is more attention paid to catheter removal by our ICU intensivists. This collaborative approach has helped lower our rates even further in 2016 (n = 3) . We achieved our CAUTI SIR goal of less than 1.0 , and changed our current goal to less than 0.5 (Figure 3).

In addition to greater intensivist engagement, the ED reduced their urinary catheter insertion rate from 12% to 4% for all patients transferring to an inpatient status. As previously mentioned, they are now placing catheters from kits that include urometers, so we do not have to break the integrity of the closed system after the patient it transferred to the ICU. We are also collaborating with surgical services to reduce catheter use. This is still a work in progress that requires collaboration with surgeons and hospitalists in changing departmental norms.


Through a combined effort involving a number of departments across the hospital, we were able to reduce catheter utilization and CAUTI rates in the ICU. We have seen a culture shift, with more ICU nursing staff questioning the use of catheters and requesting to have them removed during daily bedside rounds or simply removing them based on our nursing-driven protocol. Currently, both critical care units have been actively working on reducing CAUTI rates and have gone 310 days without a CAUTI.

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