Campaign questions use of catheters and cannulas

Welsh health trusts urged to rethink use of devices in effort to reduce infections

Around 37% of patients in Wales have a cannula fitted

A campaign has been launched across Wales in an effort to reduce the number of patients who develop infections related to the use of catheters and cannulas.

As part of the STOP campaign, developed by 1000 Lives Plus, a national medical safety programme, healthcare staff are being urged to carefully assess whether patients need the devices or if they should have them removed.

Commenting on the project, Jan Davies, 1000 Lives Plus director, said: “There are always going to be times when the insertion of a catheter or cannula is the best course of action for patients. They can be an important part of treatment, but they can sometimes be used when they aren’t needed and can cause complications if left in for too long.

By reducing the use of these devices and improving how they are maintained when they are needed, we can ensure we are doing all we can to reduce the risk of infection to the patient

“By reducing the use of these devices and improving how they are maintained when they are needed, we can ensure we are doing all we can to reduce the risk of infection to the patient.

“By stopping, thinking and considering other options, we really can help to reduce infections and avoid patients suffering unnecessary harm.”

Catheters are small tubes that are inserted into a patient’s bladder to relieve them of urine after an operation or during an illness. Cannulas are inserted directly into the vein to allow intravenous medicines and fluids to be given. In Wales, around 16% of patients have a urinary catheter and around 37% have a cannula fitted.

Figures show that urinary tract infections are the third most-common healthcare associated infection, accounting for 16% of all reports; and around 7% of all patients who have a cannula inserted have had an infection as a result.

The STOP campaign has been developed by 1000 Lives Plus to reduce the prevalence of healthcare associated infections in Wales

The STOP campaign is a two-pronged attack aimed at improving hand hygiene and the fitting and maintenance of the devices, and encouraging clinicians and nurses to consider whether they are necessary or if another approach could be used instead. Staff are also being encouraged to use a checklist for each patient to ensure the right decisions are made. It is hoped this will lead to a 50% reduction in the prevalence of infections.

Dr Eleri Davies, director of healthcare associated infections for Public Health Wales, said: “This new focus will enable healthcare staff to stop and think if the device is really needed. The message is simple and clear, yet it will make a real difference to the quality and safety of care delivered to the patient.

“Organisations are committed to winning the battle against healthcare associated infections and the STOP campaign is supporting them to achieve this aim.”

The STOP approach was used during a pilot study at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital and has led to a significant reduction in reported infections.

This has introduced the importance of checking what we are doing and patients are benefiting because there are reduced infections

Bethan Cradle, senior infection prevention and control nurse, said: “By introducing the care bundles and standardising care we are reducing and minimising the risk of infections. Staff have done really well and are starting to question do these invasive devices need to be used in the first place and, if they do, we need to make sure they are inserted and managed correctly to reduce risks. It has been a lot of work, but it’s worth it when we see the results we are having.”

The work was piloted on the ward and is about to spread to the accident and emergency department and operating theatres within the hospital.

Ward nurse, Melanie Watts, said: “I don’t think we were so aware before of the risk of infections. This has introduced the importance of checking what we are doing and patients are benefiting because there are reduced infections.”

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