The Care And Keeping Of Catheters How To Know What You’re Doing

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The fact is that as much as we spend on medical supplies as it is, that number is likely only to increase in the future. This is in part because Americans are living longer, and the number of senior citizens — that is, people who need medical supplies — are only increasing. The Institute on Aging reports that by 2010, 5.5 million Americans lived to 85 and older. However, by 2050 that age group is projected to grow to 19 million Americans. This equals 5% of the entire population. This age group tends to need at-home care. The more readily available medical supplies are available at home, the easier it will be for people to receive medical care in the comfort of their own homes. Perhaps one of the most common products sold by medical suppliers are catheters. Catheters aren’t often discussed — people don’t necessarily know what they’re used for, and what goes into taking care of people who need catheters. It’s important to know the protocol required for these products, to ensure their proper usage.

What Are Catheters Used For?

Catheters are most commonly used by those who have urinary incontinence of some kind. In fact, they’re much older than you might think. Urinary catheters have been used for about 3,500 years. Their purpose is to empty the bladder when it can’t empty itself. Lots of people have to have catheters immediately following surgery of some kind, as they might be unconscious for an extended period of time or may be unable to get out of bed to go to the bathroom. However, many people need catheters and urinary bag supplies for an extended period of time, or even permanently. Urological supplies in general represent a large part of the medical supplies market — the world market for urinary continence care devices in 2008 was estimated to be about $1.8 billion. It’s important to note that while catheters are perhaps most commonly used by the elderly, they are not the only types of patients who need catheters. There are also pediatric catheters available for children. Of course, like any invasive device, a catheter isn’t always easy to use. While some people are able to handle their catheters on their own, others — especially the elderly — may need help.

How Do You Care For A Catheter And Bag?

Obviously, in most cases a catheter will be used in conjunction with a bag. It’s extremely important to use these products correctly, as an improper usage could result in an infection or disease of some kind. For example, a leg bag needs to be emptied when it’s half-full, or twice a day at least. It’s also important to change out the leg bag for the drainage bag when it’s time for you to go to sleep. The leg bag should also be rinsed out with one part vinegar and three parts water. The bag needs to be soaked for about twenty minutes, before being rinsed out with warm water and hung up to dry. A leg bag should also be replaced whenever your doctor advises — this will usually be twice per month or once a week.

What Are The Risks Associated With Improper Care?

Unfortunately, there are a number of risks possible if you aren’t careful about how you care for your catheter and bag, or that of someone under your care. The most common type of healthcare-related infections are Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections, otherwise known as CAUTI’s. They account for more than 30% of healthcare-related infections reported by acute care hospitals. However, it’s important to remember that almost all UTI’s related to healthcare are caused by the instrumentation of the urinary tract — that is to say, the insertion of the catheter. Therefore, it’s just as important to make sure you’ve been taught how to handle a catheter properly as it is to know how to clean it.

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