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Incontinence: Managed or mismanaged in hospital settings?


Joan Ostaszkiewicz, Deakin—Southern Health Nursing Research Centre, School of Nursing, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Hwy, Burwood, Vic. 3124, Australia. Email:


This paper reports the results of a survey of inpatients to determine the prevalence of their continence status and the overall management of their incontinence. A survey of 447 hospitalized adults was conducted and an audit of their medical records. Twenty-two per cent of patients reported urinary incontinence, 10% faecal incontinence, 78% nocturia, 23% urinary urgency and 11% trouble passing urine. Pre-existing bladder and bowel problems were reported by 34% and 26% of patients respectively. Sixty per cent of patients were using a continence product or device. There was a lack of documentation in the medical records about patients' continence status and about their pre-admission bowel and bladder status. The findings reveal that the management of incontinence in acute and subacute settings is suboptimal. There is a need to raise clinical awareness about incontinence in hospital settings and to implement a structured approach to its assessment and management. Furthermore, as the costs associated with the management or mismanagement of incontinence in hospital settings are not fully understood, there is a need for further research on this issue.