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Medical News & Perspectives
June 28, 2006

Urinary Catheter Use Often “Inappropriate” in Hospitalized Elderly Patients

JAMA. 2006;295(24):2838. doi:10.1001/jama.295.24.2838

About 1 of 4 urinary catheters implanted in hospitalized patients aged 70 years or older and 1 of 3 in hospitalized patients aged 85 years or older are unnecessary, according to a new study (Holroyd-Leduc JM et al. J Patient Saf. 2005;1:201-207).

Patient interviews and medical record reviews conducted at two teaching hospitals in Ohio—the University Hospitals of Cleveland and the Akron City Hospital—reveal that 378 of 1586 patients admitted without a specific medical indication for urinary catheterization received the devices. Risk factors for unnecessary catheterization included female gender; chronic illness; cognitive impairment; incontinence; inability to carry out common activities of daily living; a physician's order for bed rest; and geriatric conditions including confusion, falls, and failure to thrive at home. Patients with 5 or more risk factors had a 50% risk of being catheterized unnecessarily.