Nursing Homes Must Provide Regular Catheter Maintenance To Keep Patients Healthy

Catheter Maintenance to Keep People HealthyA catheter is a flexible plastic tube that nursing homes may insert into the patient’s bladder if the patient is unable to urinate by him- or herself. Perhaps a patient is immobile or has other mobility issues that would prevent them from using the bathroom. The catheter is inserted through the urethra and goes directly into the bladder. The urine then drains from the bladder into a bag.

A catheter may also be necessary if the lower part of the body is paralyzed, after surgery on the pelvis or urinary tract, if the patient has an inability to control the release of urine, or with certain medical conditions (an enlarged prostate for example).

What catheter care steps do staff members have to adhere to?

While it may sound uncomfortable, it is important for loved ones and family members of nursing home patients to have a decent understanding of what goes into safe catheter use. Understanding what needs to happen makes it easier to identify if something is clearly wrong. Nursing home staff must adhere to these few steps:

  • There is no excuse for not washing hands both before and after handling a catheter
  • It is important to ensure that the urine collection bag does not pull or drag on the catheter
  • It is important that staff check for signs of infection or inflammation in or around the area of catheter
  • Staff cannot tug or pull on the catheter
  • Signs of problems may include a tender, red, swollen, or irritated skin
  • It is important never to apply lotion of powder to the skin around a catheter

What special monitoring must staff members do?

Aside from the obvious hygienic procedures that a staff members needs to observe, there are also special monitoring factors that staff members have to be aware of. A few examples include:

  • It is important that the staff member does not merely drain the urine from the bag, but also observe the condition of the urine. For example, if the urine is tea colored and dark, the resident is probably not receiving enough fluids. If the urine is cloudy, it may be a sign of infection or dehydration.
  • It is important to maintain proper catheter care every eight hours and document the proceedings. This includes cleaning around the site of catheter insertion between the legs. Proper care will likely reduce the chance of dangerous complications.
  • It is important to date the catheter bag and replace it monthly in order to avoid infection.
  • The tube itself will need to be changed as needed. Studies show that while monthly replacements are not necessary, leaving the tube in for months at a time may lead to damage to the urinary tract and/or severe infection.

Unfortunately, due to budget cutbacks, many nursing home staff members are expected to do too much during their workday. They may have to look after eight patients at a time, and sometimes this causes them to work faster than they should. However, just because a company is looking to reduce its budget there is no viable excuse as to why someone should end up with issues due to improper catheter maintenance. If you feel that your loved one is not receiving proper or safe treatment, it is important to speak out.

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