Urinary catheters are often used in patients recovering from surgery or for those who can no longer control bladder function or have been diagnosed with a disease process that blocks the ureters or has damaged the urinary system. The catheter and diaper are also often needed in pediatric situations. A combination of a catheter and a brief, the more correct and dignity-saving term for adult diapers, is often seen in nursing homes or long term care facilities. Medical staff as well as home-based care givers can offer quality care for those using both catheter and brief by learning a few basic tips.
Inspect the catheter insertion site to make sure you don't see any signs of blood or infection. In men or women, the catheter is inserted into the urinary meatus. Once the catheter is in, a balloon is inflated to hold the catheter in place. You should be able to very gently tug on the catheter line to make sure it's in place and won't slip out.
Place the catheter line against one leg, making sure there's enough slack in the line to enable some movement. Velco straps are available from medical supply stores to help secure the catheter line against the thigh wherever it's most comfortable for the patient. For infants, toddlers and small children, ensure that the line offers enough room for movement without allowing so much that the toddler or child can play or pull out the catheter.
Prepare the diaper or brief, opening it up and laying it flat in preparation for use. Placement of the brief is the same for anyone, whether she's wearing a catheter or not.
Turn the patient so you can place the brief along her bottom, then pass the front end of the brief up in between her legs, making sure you don't crimp, bend or otherwise catch the catheter tube in the brief in the groin area. Attach the brief using the tabs provided for securing.
Attach the end of the catheter to a leg or drain bag. Catheters for infants may drain directly into the diaper, but others should be equipped with a bag to catch the urine. The catheter tubing should be long enough to allow placement of the bag around the lower part of the leg where it can be hidden in pants or under a lap blanket for dignity issues.
Attach the tubing to the lower calf with another Velcro strip to prevent either catheter tubing or urine bag from dragging on or touching the floor.