Use of silver-hydrogel urinary catheters on the incidence of catheter-associated urinary tract infections in hospitalized patients

Kwan Kew Lai, Sally A Fontecchio
American Journal of Infection Control 2002, 30 (4): 221-5

BACKGROUND: Urinary tract infections (UTIs) account for 40% of all nosocomial infections, and about 80% of these are associated with the use of urinary catheters. They not only contribute to excess morbidity and mortality, but they also significantly add to the cost of hospitalization. Clinical trials with silver-coated urinary catheters have shown conflicting results. However, recent trials with silver-hydrogel urinary catheters have shown a reduction in nosocomial UTIs, and these catheters appear to offer cost savings.

METHOD: The University of Massachusetts Medical Center is a teaching, tertiary hospital with 18% of its beds in intensive care units. The silver-hydrogel urinary catheters were introduced in October 1997. The rate of catheter-associated UTIs with silver-hydrogel urinary catheter use was compared with a historical baseline UTI rate that was established for January 1996 and January 1997 with the standard, noncoated catheters. The cost of a nosocomial catheter-associated UTI was estimated by calculating the hospital charges resulting from all urinary catheter-associated UTIs in 1 month. A cost-analysis of silver-hydrogel urinary catheter use was performed.

RESULTS: The rate of catheter-associated UTIs for noncoated catheters was 4.9/1000 patient-days compared with 2.7/1000 patient-days for the silver-hydrogel catheters, a reduction of 45% (P =.1). The average cost (calculated with hospital charges) of a catheter-associated UTI at our institution was estimated to be $1214.42 US dollars, with a median of $613.72 US dollars. The estimated cost-saving ranged from $12,563.52 US dollars to $142,314.72 US dollars.

CONCLUSIONS: The use of silver-hydrogel urinary catheters resulted in a nonsignificant reduction in catheter-associated UTIs and a modest cost-saving.

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