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BJU Int. 2009 Oct;104(8):1109-12. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-410X.2009.08494.x. Epub 2009 Mar 10.

Avoidable iatrogenic complications of urethral catheterization and inadequate intern training in a tertiary-care teaching hospital.

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Department of Urology and Renal Transplantation, Beaumont Hospital, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, Ireland.



To examine the magnitude of potentially avoidable iatrogenic complications of male urethral catheterization (UC) within a tertiary-care supra-regional teaching hospital, and to evaluate risk factors and subjective feeling of interns in our institution on the adequacy of training on UC.


Male UC-related morbidities were retrospectively identified from our computerized inpatient urology consultation system over a 1-year period from July 2006 to June 2007. Relevant medical records were also reviewed. An anonymous questionnaire was used for the subjective assessment of interns about their training on UC. The primary outcome measures were the prevalence of urethral trauma secondary to UC by a non-urological team member in non-urological departments, risk factors and intern-perceived adequacy of practical and theoretical training on UC during their intern year, and finally the supervision of interns during first UC.


Of 864 urological consultations, 51 (6%) were related to complications arising from male UC during the 1-year period. The most common indication for UC was monitoring urinary output for acute medical illness (34/51, 67%). The most common complication was urethral trauma (35/51, 67%). The balloon was accidentally inflated in the urethra in six patients (12%). Of the 51 cases of UC-related morbidity, 38 (74%) resulted from interns performing UC, and of these 28 (73%) occurred during the first 6 months of internship. Overall, 76% of interns felt that their practical training was none or inadequate; 52% (26/50) did not receive any supervision during their first UC.


UC-related iatrogenic morbidity is not uncommon even in a tertiary-care teaching hospital. This study identified that interns receive inadequate training on UC. Finally, most of the complications are potentially avoidable and can be prevented by adopting a proper technique of catheterization. Adequate training and supervision of medical students and interns can achieve this.

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