The Risks of Reusing Catheters BP

As in other cases with reusing single-use devices, reusing catheters that have already been used once or multiple times comes with risks and dangers to health and safety for any individual. Sterile catheters are classified as single-use devices (SUD). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that a single-use device, also referred to as a disposable device, can be defined as a device intended for use on one patient during a single procedure. This device is not intended to be reprocessed (meaning cleaned, disinfected/sterilized) and used again. The labeling for a single-use device may or may not identify the device as single use or disposable and does not include instructions for reprocessing. Despite this information from the FDA, there are still multiple cases of catheters and other SUDs being reused. Especially when regarding patients that receive their care from home and outside of a hospital, it is not hard to imagine how single-use medical devices are not sterilized to adequate standards after reuse.

Reuse of SUDs involves regulatory, economic, medical, ethical, and legal troubles and has been a highly controversial topic for over two decades. In the case of catheters and why there are risks to reusing these devices, there are many crevices in which harmful bacteria can attach to and manifest, which could occur if the device has been reused and not properly cleaned. Depending on the SUD and how many times it has been reused, the product can become less effective or damaged after reprocessing as well. There is evidence from studies that even after careful and professional-level cleanings of catheters, these single-use devices are not always risk- and infection-free.

In one simulation study, catheters that had been deliberately contaminated were then reprocessed (sterilized) and reused and then tested for residual viruses via cell cultures and polymerase chain reaction (PCR). While testing, enterovirus was cultured from one (10%) of the catheters, but no less than six (60%) of the samples were enterovirus PCR positive and one (10%) contained detectable adenovirus DNA. This study was performed with professional and rigorous cleaning of the catheters before virus testing was commenced, and viruses were still found in the catheters. Based on this information, even if catheters are cleaned thoroughly after use and reused again, there is a still a real risk of infection to the patient. Some individuals believe that single-use devices are labeled for single use so that manufacturers of SUDs can maintain their profit margin and avoid liability. However, other individuals that are against reprocessing of SUDs argue that the risks outweigh the benefits and that research has not proven reprocessing to be safe.

When it comes to most everyday products that are used, disposable and usually one-time use products are thrown out without much thought from the average individual. While recognizing the different levels of cost and safety associated with everyday products, the same amount of responsibility of disposing should also be said for products such as catheters that are labeled as single-use. While usually more expensive than average daily products, catheters and other medical devices pertain to the well-being of patients and the public. Even if sterility can be guaranteed in the case of catheters, bacteria and residue may still remain on catheters that have already been used. Therefore, catheters should be disposed and taken care of properly to avoid any possible risks and/ or infections.

D.S. Luijt. “Risk of infection by reprocessed and resterilized virus-contaminated catheters; an in-vitro study,” European Heart Journal (March 1, 2001).
Dunn, D. “Reprocessing single-use devices–the ethical dilemma,” The National Center for Biotechnology Information (May 2002).
“Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008).
“Labeling Recommendations for Single-Use Devices Reprocessed by Third Parties and Hospitals,” Food and Drug Administration (July 30, 2001).

Coloplast Catheters

coloplast cathetersColoplast is a company that creates urinary catheters along with other urological medical devices. Coloplast Catheters offers a wide variety of urological care such as SpeediCath Flex coude, SpeediCath Compact Set, SpeediCath Compact Female, SpeediCath Compact Male, SpeediCath, Self-Cath, Self-Cath Plus, and Self-Cath Closed System. Coloplast catheters understands the stigma that may or may not come with some of the medical conditions, and because of this, they use a technique they call “intimate healthcare”.  They take into consideration each patient’s personal medical conditions and develops solutions for their specific needs. By listening to their patient’s needs, they are able to create products that help many of their patients. Coloplast aims to greatly help the people using their products. They try to give as much information on the products so that their patients can understand what they are using and how it is affecting them and their lives. Basically, Coloplast wants you to be happy, healthy and returning hope to your life.

We can answer any questions you have regarding this product or other products, just give us a call at (888) 726-5066.

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SpeediCath Flex Coude is a soft catheter with a flexible tip, dry-sleeve and soft squeeze grip. The goal of this product is to make catheterization easier for the user. The flexible tip helps the catheter through the male urethra. The soft squeeze grip helps guide the flexible tip of the catheter where it needs to go. The reason the dry-sleeve is helpful is because it means you don’t have to touch the tube to insert the catheter.

colorplast cathetersSpeediCath Compact Set is all-in-one discreet catheter and bag solution that is ready to use immediately. There is nothing else like it on the market. It has been rated the best catheter set on the market by 90 percent of healthcare professionals. This catheter can easily be held in a pocket, purse, or handbag. SpeediCath Compact Set comes in male and female versions and is good for use in and out of your home. It has a hydrophilic coating that helps with smooth catheterization.

SpeediCath Compact Female is the female version of the SpeediCath Compact Set. It is designed to suit the female body. The device is the size of a lipstick. This is the most preferred catheter for women. This catheter has an easy-grip handle which allows for no touch insertion and more control. SpeediCath Compact Male is the male version of the SpeediCath Compact Set. It is half the size of the standard intermittent catheters and has a discreet design. Its compact design makes the catheter convenient to carry and dispose. Just like the female version of this product, it has a hydrophilic coating and polished eyelets which is meant to reduce the amount of friction and urethral damage and increase the amount of comfort.

SpeediCath is an instantly ready to use Coloplast catheters, with a simple design for everyday use. The hydrophilic coating and the polished eyelets helps with smooth catheterization. This specific catheter has been proven to be reliable for fifteen years. It is known to be quick and easy to use. It is available in a wide range of sizes to suit men, women and children.

Self-Cath are catheters designed for self-catheterization. There are a variety of designs such as: straight tip, female, soft, Tapered Tip Coude with Guide Stripe, and Olive Tip Coude with Guide Stripe. Each catheter is made with PVC and has smooth fire polished eyelets that help the patient to be more comfortable while using the medical device.

Self-Cath Plus also have a variety of options for intermittent catheters, which are not made with natural rubber latex. These a single use catheters made for self-catheterization. They are made to be inserted smoothly with hydrophilic coating.

Self-Cath Closed System are single use Coloplast catheters for self-catheterization, with a wide variety of options for intermittent self-catheterization. They are not made with natural rubber latex. The catheter has a siliconized surface for smooth insertion and a collection bag for urine. The catheter is made with PVC so the patient will be more comfortable during the process of self-catheterization.

A general way to clean any type of Coloplast catheter is to either wash the catheter with soap and water, or an antiseptic solution. Rinse the inside and the outside of the catheter. Then, dry the catheter with a towel and place it on a clean towel to let it completely dry. Lastly, once the catheter is dry, place it in a plastic bag for safe keeping.


What is a urinary catheter?

Catheters are thin, hollow tubes that certain people use who need help with urinary leakage, have problems urinating, have recently had a surgery that made using a catheter necessary, have medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury or dementia, or have problems with their prostate or genitals. Catheters come in many different sizes, materials and types. Catheters drain urine out of their bladder by inserting the tube of the catheter into the urethra. Hygiene is extremely important when using catheters. Before inserting the catheter, you must wash your hands. After you wash your hands, gather the supplies for the catheter. If it is to uncomfortable for you to use your bare hands, you can always use gloves while inserting the catheter instead.


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Using a catheter is similar but different for men and women. For men, if you are not circumcised, then you must move back the foreskin on your penis. Clean the tip of your penis however your doctor showed you (usually this is with an antiseptic towelette). Apply the gel you were given to the top two inches of the catheter to moisten for easy insertion. Then with one hand, hold your penis and with the other hand gently insert the catheter. Do not try to force it in, you want to remain calm. Try to relax and breathe deeply.

For women, you also must wash your hands and collect your catheter supplies (these supplies may come in the form of a kit). The option of gloves to insert the catheter instead of using your bare hands is still viable. Then, gently open the labia and find the urinary opening. Using a mirror for the first couple of times may help you get the hang of it. Wash your labia front to back, up and down and down the middle three times. When cleaning your labia, you will want to use an antiseptic towelette, baby wipe, or just a couple of cotton balls with some soap and water. If you choose to use soap and water, remember to rinse and dry thoroughly so it does not become irritated. Then apply whatever gel you were provided by the doctor to the top two inches of the catheter. While you hold your labia, gently insert the catheter in the urinary opening. Remain calm and do not force the catheter in. Be as gentle as possible. After using the catheter, clean your labia and urinary opening again like you did prior to insertion. Finally, you must wash your hands again.

General Information

Some general knowledge:

  • If you choose to shower with your catheter, avoid very hot or very cold water.
  • After each bowel movement, wash your body around where the catheter enters it with soap and water.
  • Avoid having sex.
  • Drink 6-8 glasses of water a day.
  • To avoid constipation, eat food with high amounts of fiber and drink lots of water.
  • Do not pull on your catheter.
  • Empty the drainage bag every 8 hours or whenever the bag is full.
  • Use a plastic bottle that squirts that has a mixture of vinegar, water and bleach to clean the drainage bag.

It is very important to stay extremely hydrated while using a long-term indwelling catheter. Why? It can help reduce the possibility of blockages or UTIs. Symptoms of UTIs include: fever, chills, headache, cloudy urine due to pus, burning of the urethra or genital area, leaking urine out of catheter, blood in urine, foul-smelling urine, lower back pain and achiness. Avoiding constipation with high fiber foods and vegetables is very important, because constipation can cause problems with drainage and leaking around the catheter.

Types of Catheters

There are three main types of urinary catheters. The three main types are indwelling, external and short-term. An indwelling catheter is a catheter that is inserted by a nurse into the bladder through the urethra to drain urine for short or long periods of time. This is also known as the foley catheter. Sometimes it will be inserted through a tiny hole in the abdomen, which is known as a suprapubic catheter. On the end of these catheters there is a tiny balloon that is filled with water to prevent the catheter from sliding out of your body. When the balloon deflates, this is how we know that the catheter needs to be removed.

The second type of catheters are external catheters, also known as, condom catheters. External catheters are placed outside of the body. For men the device looks just like a condom. The catheter covers the head of the penis and a tube leads the device to a drainage bag. This type of catheter is normally used for men who have serious functional or mental disabilities. These catheters have a lower risk of infection when compared to the indwelling catheters. Normally these types of catheters need to be changed daily but some are made for longer use.

The third type of catheters are called short-term catheters, also known as, intermittent catheters. Usually these types of catheters are used for people who need them after surgery until their bladder empties. This can also be referred to by medical professionals as an in-and-out catheter. It can be used at home, but people must be first trained to do so.