Nursing student seeks safer catheter practices for sick children

Team works to reduce number of infections linked to catheterization

A doctoral student at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing is working with a team of nurse and physician leaders to examine the use of urinary catheters, and related urinary tract infections, in seriously ill children.

Because children often can't tell nurses how their bodies are responding to treatment and medications, accurate measurement of urine output is key to understanding what's going on in the patient's body. Judy Ascenzi, a Doctor of Nursing Practice student at the School of Nursing, says that catheters are often used, even when there may be safer alternatives. Ascenzi and the team developed a protocol designed to reduce the number of UTIs caused by catheters and worked with pediatric ICU nurses to implement it. Early results have been promising.

"We're asking nurses to be a little creative—working to get people to realize that there are other avenues to measure urine output that do not rely on a catheter," Ascenzi says. "Diapering is routine in less sick patients, but getting people to accept that it is OK in really sick kids has been the challenge."

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Tagged pediatrics