Q Patients who experience the common but uncomfortable sensation of “needing to void” due to indwelling Foley catheters exhibit behaviors ranging from reporting the sensation, to moaning, calling out, pulling on the catheter, attempting to get out of bed, and becoming agitated and combative. What is the physiological basis for this distressing sensation? Is the sensation related to the type of catheter, insertion technique, or other variables nurses can control? What nursing and medical measures can relieve this sensation?

A Linda M. Sulzbach, RN, MSN, CCRN, replies: ______

A The indwelling urinary catheter is an essential part of medical care. This catheter is a fairly rigid structure1 that is inserted into the bladder via the urethra, and is used to relieve anatomic or physiologic obstructions to provide a dry environment for comatose or incontinent patients and to permit accurate measurement of urinary output in critically ill patients. However, this...

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