Catheter Care Do's and Don'ts

AHRQ Safety Program for Long-Term Care: HAIs/CAUTI

When an indwelling urinary catheter is present, follow these guidelines to prevent a catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI).

Do perform hand hygiene immediately before and after handling the catheter or drainage system, and use clean gloves while handling the catheter or drainage system.

Do perform peri-care using only soap and water or a similarly gentle cleaning agent.

Do keep the catheter and tubing from kinking and becoming obstructed.

Do keep the catheter system closed when using the urine collection or leg bags.

Do replace catheters and urine collection bags that become disconnected.

Do ensure the resident's identifier and implementation date is on her/his urine collection containers.

Do disinfect the sampling port before obtaining a sample.

Do educate residents and families about proper catheter care.

Don't change catheters or urine collection bags at routine, fixed intervals.

Don't administer routine antimicrobial prophylaxis.

Don't use antiseptics to cleanse the periurethral area while a catheter is in place.

Don't vigorously clean the periurethral area.

Don't irrigate the bladder with antimicrobials.

Don't instill antiseptic or antimicrobial solutions into urine collection bags.

Don't routinely screen for asymptomatic bacteriuria (ASB).

Don't contaminate the catheter outlet valve during urine collection bag emptying.


1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) approved guidelines for the prevention of catheter-associated urinary tract infections, 2009.

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Identifying Healthcare-associated Infections (HAI) for NHSN Surveillance (online).

3. National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN). Long-term Care Facility (LTCF) Component Healthcare-Associated Infection Surveillance Module: UTI Event Reporting [online].

4. Nicolle L.E., Bradley S., Colgan, R., et al. Infectious Diseases Society of America Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Asymptomatic Bacteriuria in Adults. Clin Inf Dis 2005; 40:643‐54.

5. Stone ND, Ashraf MS, Calder J. Surveillance Definitions of Infections in Long‐Term Care Facilities: Revisiting the McGeer Criteria. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2012;33(10):965-977.

Page last reviewed March 2017
Page originally created March 2017
Internet Citation: Catheter Care Do's and Don'ts. Content last reviewed March 2017. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.