Nurse-driven protocols and the prevention of catheter-associated urinary tract infections: A systematic review

  • Danielle J. Durant
    Address correspondence to Danielle J. Durant, MBA, MS, Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy, University at Albany, 1400 Washington Ave, Albany, NY 12222. (D.J. Durant).
    Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy, University at Albany-State University of New York, Albany, NY
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Published:October 02, 2017DOI:


      • A systematic literature review on nurse-driven protocols and catheter-associated urinary tract infections was performed.
      • All included studies demonstrated reductions in clinical predictors of catheter-associated urinary tract infections.
      • A formal quality assessment revealed a high risk of bias in these studies.
      • Health care quality improvement studies could benefit from improved design.
      • Clinical impact could be substantiated through greater scientific rigor.


      Catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs) are one of the most common hospital-acquired conditions and no longer reimbursable from Medicare as of 2008. Nurse-driven protocols (NDPs), which provide a medically approved rubric for professional nurses to make autonomous care decisions, can facilitate appropriate catheter use and timely removal, as advised in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2009 CAUTI prevention guidelines. However, little attempt has been made to systematically evaluate their effect on clinical outcomes.


      A systematic review of studies published in the United States since 2006 was performed, following guidelines from the Institute of Medicine. Sources included CINAHL, Medline, professional agencies, hand-searching, and expert consultation. Clinical predictors and prevalence of CAUTI were examined and synthesized qualitatively; heterogeneity of outcomes made a statistical meta-analysis inappropriate.


      Twenty-nine studies were found eligible for inclusion. All used a case-control (pre-post) approach, and all reported reductions in clinical predictors of CAUTI, particularly indwelling-urinary catheter utilization and CAUTI rates. However, the number of CAUTIs remained unchanged in 1 study. A formal quality assessment revealed a high risk of bias; included studies met an average of 4.9 out of 11 quality indicators. Specifically, many did not use standardized measures.


      NDPs appear to have a positive impact on the clinical predictors and prevalence of CAUTI. However, this review identified need for improving the study design of quality improvement projects conducted within the patient care setting.

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