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Catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI)

Why is this measure important?

Urinary catheters are flexible tubes that are inserted into the bladders of patients who are unable to move or who do not have bladder control. They are also commonly used for patients undergoing surgery. Urinary catheters are used to drain or collect urine. When urinary catheters are not put in correctly or kept clean, they can allow germs to enter the body and cause infections in the patient’s urinary system. These catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs) can lead to other serious problems and even death.

Hospital staff members can prevent most CAUTIs by following the infection control guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These include guidelines for inserting the catheter, for keeping the insertion site clean, and for removing the catheter as soon as it is not needed. Hospitals following these safety guidelines will likely have low numbers in this measure.

What does this measure show?

The catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI) score is shown as a Standardized Infection ratio (SIR). This ratio is found by comparing the number of CAUTIs in patients in the intensive care units at Northwestern Medicine to a national benchmark.

Beginning in 2015 Q4, the SIR includes catheter-associated urinary tract infections for patients in intensive care units and select wards. Prior to 2015 Q4, the SIR included catheter-associated urinary tract infections for patients in intensive care units only.

For this measure, a lower number is better.