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Catheter Usage

Blog readers occasionally ask: what really constitutes ‘neglect’?  The best answer is given by example.  Once readers hear specific examples of how neglect occurs everyday in nursing homes they begin to appreciate it’s the severity of the situation.

Catheter UsageCurrently, my office is prosecuting a case of severe neglect involving a paralyzed man who is a long-time Foley Catheter user.  During the course of his stay at a Chicago-area nursing home, the staff failed to properly clean the catheter and our client developed an infection in the urinary tract and kidneys.  The infection was ignored for so long that our client required months of hospitalization and surgical removal of his testicles.

Many nursing home residents use catheters.  Generally, a catheter is a tube inserted into the body where you urinate and into the bladder.  The end of the tube is connected to a collection bag.  Its purpose is to drain urine from the body. Catheters may be used in the following circumstances:

  • For doctors to monitors how much urine you are producing
  • If you are unable to control you bladder
  • If you can not empty your bladder when urinating
  • If you have severe illness or are unable to physically move to the bathroom
  • If you have pressure sores or open wounds

Many residents of nursing homes receive catheters when they have none of the above conditions.  Often nursing home staff will unnecessarily catheterize a resident to avoid physically assisting a resident to the toilet.

Once in place a catheter requires maintenance and monitoring.  The following must be done to assure proper catheter care:

  • Monitor the amount of urine in the bag
  • Make sure the person drinks lots of fluids (6 – 8 glasses of water per day)
  • Empty the drainage bag at least every 8 hours
  • Wash the area where the catheter enters the body at least 2 times per day
  • Check the skin where the catheter enters the body for infection and irritation

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