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J Hosp Infect. 2004 Dec;58(4):297-302.

Antibiotics on urethral catheter withdrawal: a hit and miss affair.

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Clinical Effectiveness Unit, Royal College of Surgeons of England, London, UK.


Globally, millions of patients undergo urethral catheterization every year. Our objective was to study the current use of prophylactic antibiotics on urinary catheter withdrawal. A questionnaire (N = 300) was sent to healthcare professionals involved in the management of patients with urinary catheters (consultant microbiologists, infection control nurses, consultant urologists, specialist nurses in urology, continence advisers and consultants in the care of older people). The questionnaire asked about their use of prophylactic antibiotics on the withdrawal of a urethral catheter. Sixty percent of healthcare professionals advocated the use of antibiotics for either all or selected groups of patients. The remainder did not. The use of prophylactic antibiotics varied among different groups. Of the healthcare professionals who used antibiotics, the majority cited more than one reason for their use (prevent bacteraemia, avoid an infection in a prosthesis or urinary tract infection). The course and type of antibiotic used varied. Our study has shown diversity in practice that is of concern. At present, just over one-half of patients with urinary catheters are being given antibiotics, although there is no evidence to suggest that such an intervention confers any benefit. If benefits do not exist, these patients are being exposed to the harm of antibiotics and providers are incurring costs unnecessarily. A formal trial to address this issue is urgently needed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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