This study describes the evaluation of 108 patients who had indwelling urethral catheters for acute medical and surgical indications. Patients were evaluated daily, and cultures from bladders and drainage bags were obtained. Appropriateness for continuing catheterization was assessed using preset criteria. Twenty-five patients developed urinary tract infections. Exposure to antibiotics and a shorter duration of catheterization were the only factors that correlated significantly with a delayed onset or decreased prevalence of infection. Factors found to have insignificant effects included age, sex, maintenance of the closed system, underlying host disease status, catheter type, and reason for catheterization. No collection systems with one way valves were used, but significantly colony counts in drainage bag urine preceded urinary tract infection in only two patients. Thirty-six percent of the total 562 catheter days were judged unnecessary. A major emphasis must be placed on prompt catheter removal if the prevalence of nosocomial urinary tract infections is to be reduced substantially in a cost-effective manner.
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