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Keywords:

  • urinary catheters;
  • hospitalized older patients;
  • mortality;
  • morbidity

OBJECTIVES: To determine the association between indwelling urinary catheterization without a specific medical indication and adverse outcomes.

DESIGN: Prospective cohort.

SETTING: General medical inpatient services at a teaching hospital.

PARTICIPANTS: Five hundred thirty-five patients aged 70 and older admitted without a specific medical indication for urinary catheterization.

INTERVENTION: Indwelling urinary catheterization within 48 hours of admission.

MEASUREMENTS: Death, length of hospital stay, decline in ability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs), and new admission to a nursing home.

RESULTS: Indwelling urinary catheters were placed in 76 of the 535 (14%) patients without a specific medical indication. Catheterized patients were more likely to die in the hospital (6.6% vs 1.5% of those not catheterized, P=.006) and within 90 days of hospital discharge (25% vs 10.5%, P<.001); the greater risk of death with catheterization persisted in a propensity-matched analysis (hazard ratio (HR)=2.42, 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.04–5.65). Catheterized patients also had longer lengths of hospital stay (median, 6 days vs 4 days; P=.001); this association persisted in a propensity-matched analysis (HR=1.46, 95% CI=1.03–2.08). Catheterization was not associated (P>.05) with decline in ADL function or with admission to a nursing home.

CONCLUSION: In this cohort of older patients, urinary catheterization without a specific medical indication was associated with greater risk of death and longer hospital stay.