While it is true that some hospitals and medical facilities have worked to decrease the number of urinary catheterizations on patients due to concerns about infections, many medical facilities in the United States continue to do many unnecessary urinary catheterizations. Outpatient Surgery clinics typically do less urinary catheterizations than hospitals.
Urinary catheter is standard for many surgeries that do not really require them at some medical facilities. One man who had a simple neck surgery in a Georgia hospital was very upset and embarrassed when he woke up and discovered that he had a urinary catheter. He was not even asked for consent to have the urinary catheter inserted. Urinary catheter is not necessary for a simple neck surgery. When his daughter asked the nurse why he had a Foley catheter, the nurse replied by saying he needed one because he could not walk. A patient’s inability to walk is not a reason for a urinary catheter. Unfortunately, what happened to this man is pretty common at some medical facilities.
Some medical facilities allow nursing students to practice inserting urinary catheters on patients under anesthesia without their consent. This is very unethical. This unethical practice violates a patient’s wishes for modesty and could cause complications such as blood infection, Urinary Tract Infection, urethral injury, etc. Because nursing students have limited experience, they are more likely to injure patients they catheterize. While it is true that nursing students need practice with urinary catheterizations before they graduate from nursing schools, nursing school students should only do urinary catheterizations that are absolutely necessary under supervision of an experienced nurse and with a patient’s consent. Nursing schools should have their students do urinary catheters on mannequins as much as possible. Every nursing school should have a urinary catheter simulator such as a male catheterization simulator.
When is urinary catheter medically necessary?
Different types of anesthesia and effects on bladder functions:
Local Anesthesia – This type of anesthesia has no effect on bladder function at all so there is no need for a urinary catheter if you have local anesthesia. You should strive to have surgeries such as hand, wrist, etc. with local anesthesia if possible. Even knee surgeries can be done with local anesthesia now.
Spinal Anesthesia - Spinal anesthetics block activity along the nerve fibers that travel between the nerve centers of the brain and the bladder. Patients lose the sensation to void about 1 minute after being injected with spinal anesthesia, but will continue to feel dull pressure as the bladder reaches full capacity. In addition, the ability to contract the detrusor muscle is lost 2 to 5 minutes following the injection of local anesthetics and still persists even after bladder sensation is fully recovered. Spinal anesthesia with long-acting local anesthetic therefore contributes more to POUR (Post Operative Urinary Retention) than spinal anesthesia with short-acting local anesthetic, since the inhibitory effect of spinal blockade on bladder function lasts longer. Patients receiving spinal anesthesia with short-acting local anesthetic are often able to void shortly after outpatient surgery and are ready to leave the PACU quickly. (Source: What Do You Know About Post-Op Urinary Retention? - Outpatient Surgery) If you have spinal anesthesia, you should request spinal anesthesia with short-acting local anesthesia to reduce your chances of urinary retention.
Patients who might become incontinent should be given the option of wearing disposable waterproof underwear or boxer shorts. You can buy them before you come to the hospital.
Why is there no informed consent for urinary catheters?
John Fisher, a medical malpractice lawyer in New York shares in his article (Why Consent For Urinary Catheters Should Be Mandatory) that in evaluating hospital care throughout New York, he has not seen a single consent form for urinary catheters. Since patients with urinary catheters have a much higher chance of getting a urinary tract infection than those who do not have a catheter, the question must be posed: why is there no informed consent for urinary catheters?
Physicians and nurses will explain the patients give “implied consent” to urinary catheterization based on the theory that urinary catheterization is a common and routine part of hospital treatment. However, informed consent is important for urinary catheters for the following reasons.
- Urinary catheter complications
pose such a common and significant risk to patients.
- Urinary catheterization is an invasive procedure and embarrassing for many patients who value their modesty. Every patient should be given the option of having a same gender nurse or doctor for the catheter insertion if it is absolutely necessary. Check out how male urinary catheterization and female urinary catheterization are done.
What is the downside of consent for urinary catheterizations? A little more paperwork and time for hospital nurses, but isn’t a fully informed patient worth this minor sacrifice? Patients should be informed that urinary catheter insertion involves the risk of complications, facts about how invasive the procedure is & their option for same gender nurse, and a specific consent relating to the pros and cons of a urinary catheter should be signed by the patient.
Because there is no informed consent for urinary catheters and urinary catheter is standard for many surgeries and sick patients who cannot move at some hospitals, patients and their families must speak up and take steps to ensure that a urinary catheter is not inserted. Keep in mind that the inability to walk is not a reason to insert a urinary catheter.
Steps To Ensure That No Urinary Catheter Is Inserted:
1.) Request that no urinary catheter be inserted in writing. Write all over your surgical consent form that you do not consent to urinary catheter and that your underwear may not be removed at all for surgeries that do not involve the genitals. Try to get the consent form the day before surgery if possible.