Catheters are medically necessary for some patients. Both male and female patients may need to use a catheter for a variety of reasons and for varying lengths of time. Most often a catheter may be used after surgery.
A catheter may also be used for incontinence, retention or prostate problems. Keeping the area clean and not reusing catheters is vital for patient health. Since most patients who are using catheters already have medical issues making this necessary, it is important to use clean, sterile catheters.
Here are 3 reasons why catheters should not be reused.
1. Urinary Tract Infections
The most common side effect of reusing catheters is that the patient develops UTI’s. This is a solid reason to have clean and sterile catheters on your hospital cart. Both male and females can easily develop UTI’s from reusing catheters. And typically the patient is already recovering from an injury or surgery. The addition of a urinary tract infection is not a welcome development in their recovery phase.
Even more serious than a UTI is the development of septicemia. This very serious infection occurs when a bacterial infection enters the bloodstream. Septicemia can occur from an untreated UTI. It is then extremely easy for the infection to enter the bloodstream from the catheter site. Septicemia can lead to Acute Respiratory Distress, Septic Shock and Sepsis. Septicemia can be fatal very quickly. It is important for health care providers to have to clean catheters and to use them every single time for every patient.
3. Bladder Stones
Another secondary risk with a UTI is the development of bladder stones. When you reuse a catheter it is not likely as clean as you think or sterile. Lurking in that catheter is bacteria and microorganisms. These will enter the bladder and lead to the development of a UTI and possibly bladder stones. Although bladder stones are treatable, it can be especially worrisome for a patient that is still recovering from surgery or some type of medical procedure. And the treatment for bladder stones is often another medical procedure. By using a clean and sterile catheter every time, you help to ensure the patient’s health.
Health care providers strive to help their patients recover from surgery or manage a disability. The main goal of care is always to have the best health possible. Nurses and doctors need to remember that no matter how well a catheter may seem to have been washed; there is always the threat of bacteria and microorganisms left behind.
Used catheters should be treated as the medical waste that they are, and disposed of immediately before a mix up occurs or an attempt is made at washing.
Health care providers and patients should always have access to clean catheters. This is essential for a smooth recovery post surgery or trauma and for continued good health in a patient with a disability. Providing nurses and doctors with ample clean and sterile catheters on carts is an easy and effective way to ensure this vital practice.