What Are We Measuring?

Though considered largely preventable, catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI) is the most common health care associated infection reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These infections are associated with insertion, maintenance or prolonged use of a urinary catheter—a sterile tube inserted into a patient’s bladder to drain urine.

While catheterization is necessary in many circumstances (such as postoperative recovery), when not inserted or maintained properly, catheters can allow germs to enter the urinary tract. To reduce the risk of infection, it is important to promote appropriate catheter use, follow evidence-based practices when catheters are in place and remove these devices as soon as they are no longer medically necessary.

How Are We Performing?

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reports CAUTI using a standardized infection ratio (SIR). The standardized infection ratio is a risk-adjusted summary measure that compares the observed number of infections to the predicted number of infections during a selected time period. The measure takes into account risk factors that may impact the number of infections at a facility, including facility size, the types of patients treated and kinds of procedures performed.

SIRs below one indicate that the observed number of infections during the measured period was lower than would be expected, while values above one indicate that the observed number of infections was higher than expected.

Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections

Lower scores are better

Data Source: National Healthcare Safety Network

   ★ Performance is statistically better than the benchmark
= Performance is statistically similar to the benchmark
   ▼ Performance is statistically worse than the benchmark


What Are We Doing to Improve?

There are many efforts underway to minimize CAUTI risk throughout the hospital, which include:

  • Urinary catheters are only used when medically necessary. Alternatives to catheters are used whenever possible
  • Urinary catheters are removed when it is no longer appropriate for the patient. Nurses regularly assess, document and communicate the plan for catheter
  • Health care workers receive daily electronic reminders to assess if a catheter is still medically necessary for each patient
  • Only properly trained nurses and health care personnel insert and maintain catheters
  • Health care workers use aseptic technique when the catheter is placed
  • Health care workers clean their hands and wear gloves before and after touching the catheter
  • Patient and families are educated on best practices to reduce CAUTI
These efforts have led to a remarkable reduction in CAUTI incidence over the past five years.