The potential clinical and economic benefits of silver alloy urinary catheters in preventing urinary tract infection

S Saint, D L Veenstra, S D Sullivan, C Chenoweth, A M Fendrick
Archives of Internal Medicine 2000 September 25, 160 (17): 2670-5

BACKGROUND: Catheter-associated urinary tract infection (UTI) is associated with increased morbidity, mortality, and costs. A recent meta-analysis concluded that silver alloy catheters reduce the incidence of UTI by 3-fold; however, clinicians must decide whether the efficacy of such catheters is worth the extra per unit cost of $5.30.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the clinical and economic impact of using silver alloy urinary catheters in hospitalized patients.

METHODS: The decision model, performed from the health care payer's perspective, evaluated a simulated cohort of 1000 hospitalized patients on general medical, surgical, urologic, and intensive care services requiring short-term urethral catheterization (2-10 days). We compared 2 catheterization strategies: silver alloy catheters and standard (noncoated) urinary catheters. Outcomes included the incidence of symptomatic UTI and bacteremia and direct medical costs.

RESULTS: In the base-case analysis, use of silver-coated catheters led to a 47% relative decrease in the incidence of symptomatic UTI from 30 to 16 cases per 1000 patients (number needed to treat = 74) and a 44% relative decrease in the incidence of bacteremia from 4.5 to 2.5 cases per 1000 patients (number needed to treat = 500) compared with standard catheters. Use of silver alloy catheters resulted in estimated cost savings of $4.09 per patient compared with standard catheter use ($20.87 vs $16.78). In a multivariate sensitivity analysis using Monte Carlo simulation, silver-coated catheters provided clinical benefits over standard catheters in all cases and cost savings in 84% of cases.

CONCLUSIONS: Using silver alloy catheters in hospitalized patients requiring short-term urinary catheterization reduces the incidence of symptomatic UTI and bacteremia, and is likely to produce cost savings compared with standard catheters.

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