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Foley Catheter: A Comprehensive Guide for Nurses

This article was written in collaboration with Christine T. and ChatGPT, our little helper developed by OpenAI.

Foley Cathete


A Foley catheter is a flexible, indwelling urinary catheter used to drain urine from the bladder. It is typically made of silicone or latex material and has a small, inflatable balloon at its tip, which is inflated after insertion to help keep the catheter in place.

Related Terms

  • Indwelling Catheter: A type of catheter that remains in the body for an extended period. A Foley catheter is an example of an indwelling catheter.
  • Intermittent Catheterization: A procedure in which a catheter is temporarily inserted into the bladder to drain urine and then removed. This method is an alternative to indwelling catheters.
  • Suprapubic Catheter: A type of urinary catheter that is inserted into the bladder through a small incision in the lower abdomen. This method is used when urethral catheterization is not possible or not recommended.

Synonyms, Definitions, and Examples

Term Description Example
Indwelling Urinary Catheter Another term for a Foley catheter. A nurse inserts an indwelling urinary catheter into a patient with urinary retention.
Retention Catheter A synonym for a Foley catheter, referring to its ability to stay in place for an extended period. A patient with a neurogenic bladder may require a retention catheter to manage their urinary output.
Two-Way Catheter A type of Foley catheter with two separate channels – one for urine drainage and one for inflating the balloon. In a hospital setting, a two-way catheter is often used for patients who need continuous bladder drainage following surgery.

Assessment Techniques and Tools

When caring for a patient with a Foley catheter, nurses should assess the following:

  • Proper catheter insertion and placement
  • Urine output and consistency
  • Potential signs of infection or other complications
  • Patient comfort and pain levels

Assessment Frameworks

Nurses should follow a systematic approach when assessing a patient with a Foley catheter, such as the following:

  1. Inspect the catheter insertion site for signs of inflammation, infection, or other issues.
  2. Assess the patient’s urine output, including volume, color, clarity, and odor.
  3. Monitor for signs of complications, such as urinary retention, bladder spasms, or catheter blockage.
  4. Evaluate the patient’s comfort and pain levels, and provide appropriate interventions as needed.

Assessment Documentation

It is important for nurses to document the following information related to Foley catheter assessment and care:

  • Date and time of catheter insertion, removal, or any changes made
  • Size and type of the Foley catheter used
  • Insertion site condition and any signs of complications
  • Urine output details, including volume, color, clarity, and odor
  • Patient’s comfort and pain levels, along with any interventions provided
  • Any issues encountered during catheter care and the actions taken to address them

Legal and Ethical Considerations

Nurses must follow legal and ethical guidelines when caring for patients with Foley catheters:

  • Obtain informed consent from the patient or their legal guardian before catheter insertion
  • Adhere to proper infection control measures, such as hand hygiene and aseptic technique, to minimize the risk of infection
  • Respect the patient’s privacy and dignity during catheter care procedures
  • Regularly assess the patient’s need for a Foley catheter and remove it as soon as medically appropriate to minimize the risk of complications

Real-Life Examples or Case Studies

Case Study 1: A patient with a spinal cord injury requires a Foley catheter for urinary retention management. The nurse carefully explains the procedure, obtains informed consent, and places the catheter using aseptic technique. Regular assessments and documentation help ensure the patient remains comfortable and complication-free.

Case Study 2: An elderly patient with dementia is admitted to the hospital with a urinary tract infection. The nurse places a Foley catheter to monitor urine output and administer antibiotics. The patient’s family is involved in the care plan, and the catheter is removed as soon as the infection is under control.

Resources and References


Understanding Foley catheter care is essential for nurses in various healthcare settings. This comprehensive guide provides essential information on assessment techniques, legal and ethical considerations, and real-life examples. Following best practices and maintaining thorough documentation will help nurses ensure the highest quality of care for patients with Foley catheters.