Catheter Associated Urinary Tract Infection (CAUTI)

An indwelling urinary catheter is a tube that is placed into the bladder to collect urine.  A catheter associated urinary tract infection can occur when a urinary catheter is in place and germs are present.

Catheter Associated Urinary Tract Infection (CAUTI)



What are we doing to reduce catheter associated urinary tract infections?

To prevent catheter associated urinary tract infections, our doctors, nurses, and other health care providers:

  • Only use a urinary catheter when it is medically necessary
  • Clean their hands with soap and water or an alcohol based hand rub, and put on gloves before putting in and taking out a catheter
  • Clean the patient's skin with an antiseptic cleaner before putting in the catheter
  • Clean the catheter daily and as needed
  • Empty the catheter on a regular basis
  • Handle the catheter with care to prevent opportunity for infection
  • Decide every day whether the patient still needs to have a urinary catheter and remove it as soon as possible

How are we doing?

By following best practices throughout the hospital and staying up-to-date with new practices we have reduced urinary catheter infection rates over time. 

What can patients do to help?

Patients and their families can also help reduce the incidence of catheter-associated urinary tract infections.  Download this catheter-associated urinary tract infection fact sheet to see what preventative measures you and your family can take. 

Indwelling Urinary Catheter Use

An indwelling urinary catheter (IUC) is a tube that is placed in the bladder to drain urine.  It is placed in the bladder and takes the place of urinating (peeing).  It is often used when patients cannot urinate on their own or when patients need to be closely monitored for how much urine they are making.  It is sometimes used during surgery or for kidney and bladder testing. 

Risk Associated with Indwelling Urinary Catheters

Although there are benefits to using a urinary catheter, healthcare providers try not to put them in unless they are necessary to a patient’s health.  Complications can be dangerous and expensive to treat.

An indwelling urinary catheter in place increases the chance of having a urinary tract infection.  Germs that cause infection can enter the urinary tract when a catheter is inserted and/or while it stays in place. 

In order to prevent catheter-associated urinary tract infections, BWH has created a task force to support improvement initiatives.

Managing Risks Associated with Indwelling Urinary Catheters

BWH has created and implemented multiple projects to prevent catheter associated urinary tract infections. 

  • Best practice guidelines for ordering providers of when to place a urinary catheter based on CDC Guidelines
  • A Nurse Driven Urinary Catheter Removal Protocol that promotes timely removal of urinary catheters
  • Hospital staff, patient, and family education around urinary catheter safety and practices


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