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The catheter is a useful and sometimes necessary medical device that can be used during a hospital stay for the comfort of the patient, when certain medical conditions are present, and for other medically justifiable reasons. However, the use of catheters in hospitals across the nation has become so routine that many charge that the medical profession has become over-reliant on the devices. Furthermore, some charge that nurses and other practitioners may elevate their own convenience over the medical needs and risks faced by the patient.

For more than three decades, the experienced and dedicated attorneys of Reiff & Bily have fought for individuals injured by medical malpractice and defective medical devices. Likewise, if you have suffered a severe, serious injury due to insufficient pre-operation instructions or port-op care, we can also fight for you. To schedule a free and confidential initial consultation with our experienced personal injury attorneys call (215) 274-0072 today or contact us online.

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What is a Catheter?

In general and at the most basic level, a catheter is merely a thin tube that can be inserted into the body to treat certain medical conditions or to facilitate surgery. Catheters can allow for the removal or administration of various fluids into or out from the body. Catheters can be used for issues and concerns regarding the gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neurovascular, and ophthalmic systems. However, the catheter is probably most familiar in the context of its use as a means to drain urine from the urological system in patients who are bed-ridden or incontinent.

The process of inserting a catheter is known as catheterization. Certain steps and instructions must be provided prior to the catheter being administered. The catheter itself is a thin flexible tube constructed from medical-grade materials. Depending on the application for the catheter, the level of flexibility of the catheter can vary. Medical professionals must select a catheter that is appropriate for the location and the function.

Can Medical Malpractice Occur When a Catheter is Administered?

Medical malpractice means something more than merely a bad medical result. In fact, it is possible for a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional to perform all steps and actions exactly as best medical practices dictate and still result in a bad medical outcome. While there is an impulse that a bad result can not come from proper procedures, this is not strictly accurate and it takes something more than a bad result to establish a viable medical malpractice action. Chiefly, medical malpractice occurs when medical negligence is committed. Roughly speaking, medical negligence occurs when a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional’s conduct, behavior, care, or instructions fall below the acceptable standard of care. The standard of care is breached when a medical professional deviates from accepted behaviors of a similarly situated reasonable medical professional.

Improper care Pre- and Post-Catheter Use Can Increase the Infection Risk

The use of catheters requires special care. When this special medical care is not taken or is insufficient, infections and other complications can follow. A University of Michigan study found that hospitals have room to reduce overall catheter usage to prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs) and their associated complications. Furthermore, reduction in the use of catheters would also lead to a decrease in “non-infection complications, such as urethral injury. Patients also might experience less discomfort and be free of the restraints brought by the catheter.”

After 20 weeks of exposure to responsible catheter use messages that emphasized use of catheters only when medically necessary, changes in catheter usage was observed. After 20 weeks, average urinary catheter utilization rate decreased from 18.1 percent to 14.8 percent, while the rate of appropriate catheter use increased from 44.3 percent to 53.5 percent. These results suggest that there is clearly room to reduce catheter usage and furthermore that catheters are being used for reasons other than medical necessity. By emphasizing proper catheterization procedures along with encouraging only the responsible use of catheters when it is medically necessary, both infection-related and urethral injury complications can be avoided. However, when catheters are used inappropriately due to circumstances, medical conditions, or underlying pre-existing conditions the risk of injury due to medical malpractice increases significantly.

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Rely on Our Experienced Medical Malpractice Legal Attorneys

If you or a loved one have been injured due to improper catheterization, inappropriate catheterization, improper care related to a catheter, or other instances of medical malpractice the experienced personal injury attorneys of Reiff & Bily can fight for you. To schedule a free and confidential consultation call our firm at (215) 274-0072 today.

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