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Foley catheter – Preventing Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infection (CAUTI)

What is a Foley catheter?

A foley catheter (kath-eh-tur) is a type of indwelling urinary catheter. It is a flexible tube that is placed through the urethra into the bladder to drain urine. A Foley may be used:

  • to check how much urine is made
  • when patients are not able to move for a long time
  • for certain types of surgeries to keep the bladder empty and allow for healing
  • with certain types of medications
  • to help with healing of certain types of wounds near the buttocks

What is a catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI)?

Foleys are helpful for taking care of your child, but they can increase the risk of infections when germs grow in or on the Foley and travel to the bladder. This can cause an infection. When this happens, it is called a catheter-associated urinary tract infection or CAUTI. A CAUTI can be serious, and treatment may require extra medications or a longer hospital stay.

How can this be prevented?

Your care team will check the Foley for signs of infection every day. We also take steps recommended by the CDC (Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention) to prevent infections. This includes:

  • washing our hands and/or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer as we enter and exit the room and before any procedure;
  • using a special soap on the skin before inserting the Foley;
  • careful handling and positioning of the Foley, the tubing and the collection bag;
  • emptying the collection bag frequently
  • checking with your child's doctor every day to see if the Foley is still needed.

How should I care for my child?

Parents and patients also play a role in preventing CAUTIs:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when you enter and leave your child's room;
  • Wash your hands with soap and water before and after you prepare food, eat or feed your child and before and after you use the bathroom or change a diaper.
  • Ask visitors to wash their hands when they enter and exit your child's room.
  • Do not allow visitors to touch the Foley, tubing or collection bag.
  • Watch your nurses and doctors to make sure they wash their hands before and after handling the Foley. Do not be afraid to
    remind them to wash their hands!
  • Keep the Foley clean when changing the diaper. Always clean from where the catheter enters the body outward or away from the body. NEVER wipe upward as this could sweep bacteria up into the urethra and cause infection.
  • Help make sure the collection bag is always below the level of your child's belly button. Ask your child's nurse for help if you see the collection bag on the floor.


This is not specific to your child, but provides general information. If you have any concerns about your child's Foley, or the way it is cared for, talk to your child's nurse or doctor.

Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota
Reviewed by infection prevention 8/2015

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Minnesota Family Resource Center library, or visit

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