Urinary drainage bags, like catheters themselves, are delicate pieces of medical equipment. Due to their intimate contact with equally delicate parts of the human body, very strict hygiene regiments need to be practiced when emptying, changing, or doing any other maintenance with them.
Importance of Drainage Bag Care
For patients adjusting to using urinary incontinence products like a catheter system, one of the greatest challenges can be proper, hygienic use and care of their medical devices. If patients do not properly care for their catheter products and practice good sanitation habits, they are at a higher risk of developing infections and other complications. This can not only lead to more serious health risks, but also discourage future use of the products which can dramatically increase a patient’s quality of life. One of the most integral parts of a catheter system which requires frequent care and maintenance is the drainage bag. Drainage bag care can be very simple, but it is essential to the overall health and well being of the catheter system, and its user.
Empty the Drainage Bag Frequently
One of the most important factors in drainage bag care is emptying the bag with appropriate frequency. As the bag becomes more full, its weight and mass increase. This will, in turn, produce a greater degree of stress on the patient’s sensitive areas. This can lead to irritation and discomfort for the patient, discouraging them from developing good habits with their treatment. In the case of leg bags, a bag becoming overfull also can provide a logistical problem should the patient need to empty the bag when they are at an inconvenient location to do so. In short, drainage bags should not be allowed to become more than half full in most cases, perhaps even less full in the case of smaller leg bags.
Wash your Hands Thoroughly
Beyond simple frequency, it is also necessary for patients to wash their hands both before and after emptying the bag. This will ensure that the bag remains uncontaminated by any bacteria or foreign matter.
It is very important to keep the bag below the height of the patient’s bladder or waist. This will prevent urine from leaving the bag and flowing back to the catheter and into the bladder. The bag should not be allowed to touch any foreign surfaces or objects, particularly the spigot where the urine empties from, as this can contaminate the closed system.
Cleaning the Bag
For general cleaning, rubbing alcohol should be applied to any parts of the drainage bag which are required to be touched after use, particularly in the case of the spigot. For more thorough cleaning, once the bag has been emptied and is not in use, a mixture of water and bleach can be applied to the inside of the bag, taking special care to rinse extremely thoroughly afterward.
With bleach, the ratio should be 1 part bleach per 10 parts water. In cases where the use of bleach is either impractical or considered unsafe, patients can substitute white vinegar in a solution of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water ratio. In either case, this mixture should be allowed to agitate and soak within the bag for at least 30 seconds. Make sure the drainage bag has been removed from the patient before using these thorough cleaning methods.
Replacing your Drainage Bag
Even with proper cleaning techniques, patients should not hesitate to change out their urinary drainage bag if any kind of discoloration or other sign of reduced integrity appears. A good rule of thumb, replace the drainage bag monthly. If you notice your bag has turned purple, don’t worry. Typically, it is a harmless condition.
By properly caring for not only their drainage bag but their entire catheter system, patients will dramatically decrease the likelihood of suffering infections and other complications which can compromise catheter system treatments. If you are in need of urinary catheters, fill out our Qualify Through Insurance form to see if you qualify to receive up to 200 catheters at little to no cost, delivered to your home; or call 844-276-5588 to speak to a customer service representative.