Are you having back pain with any of the following?

  • Severe pain, weakness or tingling in your leg(s).
  • Difficulty stopping urination or loss of control of bladder or bowels.
  • Unexplained fever, nausea or vomiting.
  • A history of cancer or unexplained weight loss.

We understand that you are experiencing one or more of the health issues that might be impacting your back pain.

We recommend that you discuss these health issues with your doctor before proceeding with this program.

Once you are cleared by your doctor to do this program, we hope it helps you find relief from your back pain.

Provider photo for Charles Hare

Charles Hare, MD

Infectious Diseases

As your doctor, I believe that empowering you with information will allow you to be more proactive in our partnership in maintaining your health. MyDoctorOnline will enable us to communicate better. You can e-mail me, check your lab results, make an appointment, access our many online programs or get information about a particular health topic - any time that's convenient for you.

My Offices

San Francisco Medical Center
Appt/Advice: 415-833-2200

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Overview

A Foley catheter is a long, thin tube with a bag attached to one end. The bag collects urine that drains from your bladder. A small balloon is inflated inside your bladder to keep the device in place. 

When germs travel from the tube and into your bladder, the result is a urinary tract infection (UTI) or a catheter-associated urinary tract infection or CAUTI. 

These infections are common. The longer you use a Foley catheter, the greater your risk of infection. 

The infection is treated with antibiotics. We might also remove or replace the Foley catheter.

Causes

A Foley catheter infection occurs when bacteria or other germs travel up the tube and enter your bladder. Germs might also enter the tube from the drainage bag when your bag is changed.

You might need a Foley catheter to drain urine from your bladder while you’re in the hospital or if you aren’t able to get up to go to the bathroom on your own. 

For example, you may need a Foley catheter:

  • For 1 to 2 days after surgery.
  • If you have a condition that makes it difficult for you to urinate on your own.

Symptoms

Common symptoms of a Foley catheter infection are:

  • Pain or tenderness around the catheter site.
  • Fever and chills.
  • Pain or discomfort in your lower stomach and back (pelvis).

You might notice urine leaking from where the tube connects to the bag. This can be caused by many reasons. We may have to replace the tube if we can’t identify the reason. 

Other symptoms might include:

  • Blood in the urine bag.
  • Fatigue.
  • Strong urge to urinate or frequent urination.
  • Pressure spasms in your back or abdomen.
  • Confusion or vomiting.
  • Pain or burning sensation when you urinate after the tube is removed.

If the infection isn’t properly treated, it can spread to your kidneys. Rarely, it may spread to your bloodstream, which can be more serious.

Risk Factors

The longer you have a Foley catheter in place, the greater your risk of developing an infection. 

A Foley catheter might need to remain in place longer when you:

  • Have a more serious condition, such as a spinal cord injury.
  • Have surgery on your bladder.
  • Are not able to move on your own.

Your risk of infection is greater when you:

  • Have a weakened immune system.
  • Are an older adult.
  • Have a permanent Foley catheter.

Diagnosis

To diagnose a Foley catheter infection, we:

  • Perform a physical examination.
  • Assess your symptoms.
  • Test a sample of your urine. 

We may also order a urine culture to identify the type of germ causing the infection. Once we know, we can prescribe the right medicine (antibiotics).

After you finish your medicine, we might order an additional urine test to make sure the infection is gone. 

Prevention

During your hospital stay, we take precautions to prevent infection.

Careful insertion. We place a sterile Foley catheter through the tube that carries urine out of your body (urethra). We carefully move the tube into your bladder. Rarely, we’ll insert the tube through a small hole made in your lower abdomen.

Hygiene. We clean our hands before placing the tube to avoid exposing you to germs. If you don’t see a doctor or nurse first wash their hands or use an antibacterial hand cleanser, remind them to do so.

Prompt removal. We regularly monitor you to see how soon we can remove the Foley catheter. The earlier we remove it, the lower your risk of getting an infection.

If you must go home with a Foley catheter, we’ll teach you how to avoid an infection. 

Lifestyle Management

Before touching, changing, or checking your catheter or urine bag:

  • Wash your hands and under your fingernails with soap and warm water.
  • Clean the catheter site with a warm washcloth and soap.
  • Wash your upper legs and buttocks.
  • Rinse the soap off your body, and pat dry with a towel (don’t rub your skin).
  • Secure the tube to your body with a clean piece of tape. 

Men usually tape the tube to their abdomen. Women tape the tube to their inner thigh.

Never touch anything that goes into your catheter and bladder without first cleaning your hands.

Home Treatment

If you must use a Foley catheter for longer than a few days, be sure to:

  • Drink plenty of daily fluids to flush the catheter.
  • Check your bag every 1 to 2 hours.
  • Change or drain the bag before it gets too full.
  • Change your catheter immediately if it plugs up.
  • Pinch your catheter to check for sediment. If so, have the tube changed immediately.
  • Keep the drainage bag below bladder level.

Remember to follow all instructions exactly as given.

If the bag doesn’t contain urine every 1 to 2 hours, check to see why. Make sure the catheter is in place and isn’t leaking. Call us or your primary doctor if you have any questions. 

Your Care with Me

If you are having symptoms that concern you, your first contact will typically be with your personal physician, who will evaluate your health and symptoms.

If specialty care is needed, your personal physician will facilitate the process of scheduling an appointment in my department. If appropriate, she or he might call me or one of my colleagues while you are in the office so we can all discuss your care together. If we decide you need an appointment with me after that discussion, we can often schedule it the same day or soon thereafter.

During your office visit, we will discuss your medical and family history and I will perform a physical exam. I will explain the findings of your exam and answer any questions or concerns you may have. We will discuss treatment options and develop a treatment plan that is right for you.

If you need to talk with me after your visit or procedure, please call my office. You can also e-mail me with nonurgent issues from this website whenever it is convenient for you.

For general medical advice, our Appointment and Advice line is available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

If you have urgent concerns or issues while my office is closed, or need general medical advice, you can call the Appointment and Advice line. You will be connected with a nurse who can give you immediate advice.

If you are experiencing a serious problem or an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room when the clinic is not open.

Coordinating Your Care

Having all of our Kaiser Permanente departments located together or nearby, including pharmacy, laboratory, radiology, and health education, makes getting your care easier for you.

Another major benefit is our comprehensive electronic medical record system, which allows all of the doctors and clinicians involved in your care to stay connected on your health status and collaborate with each other as appropriate.

When every member of the health care team is aware of all aspects of your condition, care is safer and more effective.

If you come to an office visit
  • At the beginning of your visit, you will receive information about when you are due for your next test, screening, or immunization. We can discuss and schedule any preventive tests that you need. 
  • At the end of your visit, you may receive a document called the “After Visit Summary” that will summarize the issues we discussed during your visit. You can refer to it if you forget what we discussed, or if you just want to recheck your vital signs and weight. You can also view it online under Past Visits.
  • To help you prepare for your visit, please see additional details under Office Visit. 
If I prescribe medications

We will work together to monitor and assess how your medications are working and make adjustments over time. Prescriptions can be filled at any Kaiser Permanente pharmacy. Just let me know which pharmacy works best for you, and I will send the prescription electronically in advance of your arrival at the pharmacy.

If refills are needed in the future, you can:

  • Order them online or by phone. Order future refills from my home page or by phone using the pharmacy refill number on your prescription label.
  • Have them delivered to you by mail at no extra cost. Or you can pick up your medications at the pharmacy. If no refills remain when you place your order, the pharmacy will contact me regarding your prescription.
If lab testing or imaging is needed

For lab tests, I will use our electronic medical record system to send the requisition to the Kaiser Permanente laboratory of your choice. For imaging procedures, we will schedule an appointment with the Radiology department. When the results are ready, I will contact you with your results by letter, secure e-mail message, or phone. In addition, you can view most of your laboratory results online, along with any comments that I have attached to explain them.

If I refer you to another specialty colleague

If we decide together that your condition would also benefit from the care of other types of specialists, our staff will help arrange the appointment(s) with one or more of my specialty colleagues.

If surgery or a procedure is a treatment option

I will recommend that you review educational information and tools to help you prepare for your procedure or surgery. The information will often help you decide whether surgery is right for you. If you decide to have a surgery or procedure, the information will provide details about how to prepare and what to expect.

If we proceed with surgery, I will have my Surgery Scheduler contact you to determine a surgery date and provide you with additional instructions regarding your procedure. Once your surgery is scheduled, a medical colleague of mine will contact you to conduct a preoperative medical evaluation that will assure that you are properly prepared for your surgery.

Convenient Resources for You

As your specialist, I have a goal to provide high-quality care and to offer you choices that make your health care convenient. I recommend that you become familiar with the many resources we offer so that you can choose the services that work best for you.

My Doctor Online is available at any time that is most convenient for you. From my home page you can:

Manage your care securely
  • View and compose secure e-mail messages.
  • Manage your prescriptions.
  • View your past visits and test results.
  • View your preventive services to see whether you are due for a routine screening or updated immunization.
Learn more about your condition
  • Read about causes, symptoms, treatments, and procedures.
  • Find interactive health tools, videos, and podcasts to help you manage your condition.
  • View programs to help you decide on or prepare for a surgery or procedure.
Stay healthy
  • Locate health education classes and support groups offered at every medical center.
  • Explore interactive programs, videos, and podcasts that focus on helping you stay healthy.
  • View your Preventive Services to see whether you are due for a routine screening or updated immunization.

Related Health Tools:

Prepare for Your Procedure

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If you have an emergency medical condition, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. An emergency medical condition is any of the following: (1) a medical condition that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that you could reasonably expect the absence of immediate medical attention to result in serious jeopardy to your health or body functions or organs; (2) active labor when there isn't enough time for safe transfer to a Plan hospital (or designated hospital) before delivery, or if transfer poses a threat to your (or your unborn child's) health and safety, or (3) a mental disorder that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity such that either you are an immediate danger to yourself or others, or you are not immediately able to provide for, or use, food, shelter, or clothing, due to the mental disorder.

This information is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of specific medical advice or care you receive from your physician or other health care professional. If you have persistent health problems, or if you have additional questions, please consult with your doctor. If you have questions or need more information about your medication, please speak to your pharmacist. Kaiser Permanente does not endorse the medications or products mentioned. Any trade names listed are for easy identification only.

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