Urinary catheters are used in many medical settings to help patients with bladder dysfunction (or temporary inability, sometimes due to surgery or other conditions) to continuously drain urine. They can be inserted in men and women, and research has established they are used by between 15 percent and 25 percent of all patients at some point during a hospital stay (with greater prevalence among patients whose stays are longer). Most catheters are only intended for short-term use, under 30 days typically.
Although catheters can be medically necessary, they are invasive devices and serious problems can arise when they are used unnecessarily or aren’t removed when they are no longer needed. There are far too many instances wherein older patients with incontinence have catheters inserted when they medically don’t need it – simply for staff convenience. These devices are associated with a greater death risk – four times higher during hospitalization and twice as high three months after discharge.
Recently in Missouri, the family of a 52-year-old veteran soldier filed a medical malpractice lawsuit over what they say was a misplaced catheter. According to the Kansas City Star, the patient was living in a nursing home due to multiple sclerosis and a traumatic brain injury. He was being seen at a Veteran’s Affairs urology clinic for a condition called neurogenic bladder, which is a common complication of multiple sclerosis that can cause one’s bladder to be either underactive or overactive. Continue reading →