Rethinking the female catheter

Nurse shares her innovative idea and excitement about new product that’s all about dignity and reducing infections.

A new Spectrum Health Innovations product is expected to cut down on catheter-related infections in women and push convenience ratings up.

Mary Tibbe, a nurse practice associate for Spectrum Health cardiothoracic services, noticed a need for an alternative to indwelling urinary catheters. Hence the creation of the external urinary device for women.

As part of a quality task group, Tibbe noticed catheter-associated urinary tract infections were prevalent, especially in critical care areas.

“As part of that, we were evaluating alternatives,” Tibbe said. “We realized females do not have a good alternative.”

A co-worker suggested Tibbe bring the issue to Spectrum Health Innovations.

In early 2015, Tibbe began working with Spectrum Health Innovations manager Scott Daigger, who then enlisted Grand Valley State University students to help in the design process.

The students built models, computer-assisted designs and 3-D prototypes.

A prototype is now available and about to enter the test phase. The discreet device attaches with adhesive and includes a tube for drainage. It can be used while the patient is in bed or up and walking around.

“I’m excited for it,” Tibbe said. “I think it will fill a large need that we have nationwide.”

The product could be used not only for hospital patients but for incontinent women and patients in long-term care facilities.

“I’m really excited we can provide something like this for patients to help them keep their dignity and keep them from harm (infections),” Tibbe said.

Kristina Emery, clinical innovations nurse at Spectrum Health Innovations, said the external urinary device is a great alternative to an indwelling catheter.

“I think it gives women and health care professionals an alternative to having to put in an indwelling catheter,” Emery said.

The goal is to reduce catheter use and hospital-acquired infections, according to Emery. Catheters are known for their potential to cause urinary tract infections.

“It’s a catheter alternative, which is fabulous,” she said. “Anytime a catheter is used, this is a risk for causing infection, which can be dangerous.”

Emery said the device is a perfect match for ICU patients who are unable to control their voiding. She also sees potential future use in long-term care and nursing home settings and for those who are incontinent.

“This is going to be an excellent device,” she said. “It’s modest and discrete and can hide under clothing.”

Spectrum Health Innovations is currently working with the Applied Medical Device Institute at Grand Valley State University on the next phase of development.

“We’re going to be doing some volunteer testing in May,” Emery said. “Volunteers will be testing the device for development purposes—Did the device stay on? Did the device collect urine like it should?”

Additional clinical testing could be as early as next year, Emery said.

“It’s going to be very exciting,” she said.

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Comments (13)

  • I am ready to try any help as I am using so many pads daily and I need to wash my clothes everyday. May I try this invention to see if I’m a possible participant?
    My life is so limited and I must stay home close to my bathroom. I am so ashamed of leaking in public or having to carry a large amount of pads with me.

    • I can see a world of problems with adhesive tears, allergies and the fact you cannot read hourly urine output without an indwelling catheter. The other problem is it is much more demeaning to have something taped to a sensitive area that in slides the clit area.

  • Yet another great idea but for one problem many of us face — allergy to the medical adhesives . Sorry I can’t be enthusiastic about yet another product that WOULD be an improvement if we could actually use it . Even paper tape provokes an allergic reaction in me – this is true for far to many of us left out with medication patch delivery , need for bandaging , the list goes on and on . Please consider other methods of keeping this in place too – for example could coban straps work to do so ?

  • This is awesome!! I have known so many elderly women in nursing homes who suffer from recurring Urinary tract infections due to catheters!! This method has to be a better way to prevent those infections!
    Thank you for the brains that dreamed this beautiful invention! I’m not at that stage of my life, but now I have one less thing to dread during the “Golden Years!”

  • This is same as the male which have been used for years. Better off with indwell and no bag just tubing to go unscrew drain in commode.adhesive in peri area?

  • Aside from what others have stated about adhesives, it seems to me it would also greatly increase the chance of vaginal infections.

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