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Caring for Your Foley Catheter 

Cross-section of the organs in the lower pelvis, including the vagina, bladder, urethra, and a Foley catheter.

You are going home with a Foley catheter. A Foley catheter is a rubber tube that is placed through the urethra (opening where urine comes out) and into the bladder. This helps drain urine from the bladder. There is a small balloon on the end of the tube that is inflated after insertion. This keeps the catheter from sliding out of the bladder. A Foley catheter is used to treat urinary retention (being unable to pass urine). It is also used when there is incontinence (loss of bladder control). This health sheet will help you remember what to do to care for your Foley catheter at home.

Understanding your role

  • A nurse or other healthcare provider will teach you and/or your caregivers how to care for the Foley catheter.

  • Before leaving the hospital, make sure you understand:

    • What to do at home

    • How long you may need the catheter

    • When to have a follow-up visit

Protecting your Foley catheter

  • Wash your hands before and after draining your bedside bag.

  • Use a leg band to secure the drainage tube, so it does not pull on the catheter.

  • Drain the collection bag when it becomes full using the drain spout at the bottom of the bag. Don’t touch the tip of the drainage tube or let it touch the toilet or container when draining.

  • Don’t try to pull or remove your catheter. This will injure your urethra. It must be removed by your healthcare provider or nurse.

Preventing infection

  • Finish taking any antibiotic medicine you were sent home with, even if you are feeling better.

  • You may shower with the catheter in place. Clean the skin near the catheter with soap and water. Wash your genital area from front to back.

  • Wash the catheter tubing in the direction away from your body.

  • Don’t disconnect the catheter from the collection bag. This will help keep bacteria from getting into the bag.

  • Don’t try to remove the catheter by yourself. Your nurse or other healthcare provider will tell you how to change your bag and tubing if needed.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider as advised for repeat urine testing and catheter removal or replacement.

When to get medical help

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Fever of 100.4ºF (38ºC) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Bladder pain or fullness

  • Abdominal swelling, nausea or vomiting, or back pain

  • Blood or urine leakage around the catheter

  • Bloody urine coming from the catheter (if a new symptom)

  • Catheter falls out

  • Catheter stops draining for 6 hours

  • Weakness, dizziness, or fainting

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 7/1/2019
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