Indwelling Bladder Catheters

Indwelling bladder catheters (IBC) are medical devices used to drain urine from the bladder. An IBC should only be placed when medically necessary and for the shortest amount of time possible. Specific situations that may require the use of an IBC include:

  • Acute urinary retention or bladder outlet obstruction.
  • Timed urine collection for a diagnostic study.
  • Acute medical conditions requiring accurate measurements of urine output.
  • Stage 3 or 4 pressure injuries that will not heal due to urinary incontinence.
  • Comfort care at end of life as part of a palliative plan of care.

Long-term use of an IBC can lead to significant complications, including catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI), trauma to the urethra, urethral fistula and bladder stones. IBCs can also cause pain and discomfort, often related to bladder spasms.

A nursing facility (NF) should have a process in place to evaluate IBC use and discontinue catheters when they are no longer medically necessary. The NF’s infection prevention and control plan should also address monitoring and surveillance for CAUTIs in people with IBCs.

Resources Created by HHSC

Resources from Other Organizations

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine (AMDA)