Treated-and-released urinary catheterization in the emergency department by sex

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The prevalence and difference in likely indications of urinary catheterization (UC) in treated-and-released emergency department (ED) visits between men and women are currently unknown.


This was a cross-sectional analysis using the 2013 National Emergency Department Sample for all treated-and-released visits in persons aged ≥18 years. The prevalence of conditions associated with UC visits in men and women were identified. A hierarchical ranking was used to categorize diagnosis codes identified during ED visits into clinically meaningful categories to assess conditions for UC.


In 2013, there were 87,797,062 treated-and-released ED visits in adults. The rate of UC in treated-and-released ED visits in adults was 4.3 per 1,000 visits, with 6.5 per 1,000 visits in men and 2.7 per 1,000 visits in women. Using the hierarchal ranking, a higher proportion of UC visits in men were coded for acute urinary retention, and a higher proportion of UC visits in women were coded for neurologic, cognitive, and psychiatric conditions.


The rate of UC in treated-and-released ED visits was higher in men than women, and UC rate increased with age. The heterogeneity of conditions coded in UC visits in women compared with men may suggest more potentially avoidable UC in women in the treated-and-released ED population. If confirmed, this would suggest opportunities for quality improvement in the ED to prevent overutilization of urinary catheters.

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