Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections

One of the most common infections in the hospital is a catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI). It is caused by germs that enter the body via a urinary catheter, a tube inserted into the urinary tract to drain urine.

These infections can lead to serious complications, even death, especially for critically ill patients.

How does UCSF Medical Center measure CAUTIs?

UCSF Medical Center measures these infection rates according to the methods of the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate is expressed as the number of infections per 1,000 urinary catheter days, or the number of days patients have a urinary catheter in place.

What is the CAUTI rate at UCSF Medical Center?

Lower is better when comparing these infection rates. Individual hospital units compare their data with NHSN data.

UCSF Medical Center achieved a CAUTI rate of 1.97 CAUTI/1,000 urinary catheter days in fiscal year 2016.

Our goal is to have zero catheter-associated urinary tract infections in our hospital.

Chart for Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections

What does UCSF Medical Center do to prevent CAUTIs?

To prevent infection, we treat the insertion of a urinary catheter as an aseptic procedure, using sterile gloves and equipment. Doctors and nurses thoroughly wash their hands before the procedure.

All patients with urinary catheters are assessed each day to determine if the catheter is still necessary. When it is no longer needed, it is removed. Each day a urinary catheter remains in place, the catheter and the patient are cleaned to decrease germs that can cause infection.

In addition, a committee of Infection Control nurses, bedside nurses and doctors meets regularly to review infection rates and examine our procedures. If a CAUTI occurs, this committee evaluates what, if anything, went wrong.

What can patients do?

Talk to your health care team. Find out when the catheter can be safely removed. If you don’t see a doctor, nurse or technician clean his or her hands, ask him or her to do so before touching you or the catheter.

Related Information

Contact Us

If you have any questions or comments about our performance, contact Patient Safety and Quality:

  • UCSF Medical Center
    (415) 353-4989
  • UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital San Francisco
    (415) 502-9859

For help finding a doctor or other assistance, contact our Referral Service at (888) 689-UCSF or (888) 689-8273.

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