Managing urinary incontinence in the acute care setting


Urinary Incontinence (UI) is a stigmatized, underreported, under-diagnosed, under-treated condition that is erroneously thought to be a normal part of aging. It is much more common in women than men. It is so common among hospitalized older adults and those in long-term care that it’s often seen as inevitable. People older than 65 constitute a growing hospital population and studies have found that 20% to 42% of adult patients in acute care settings are affected by UI. In addition, 20% to 35% of previously continent older adults admitted to the hospital will go on to develop UI. Among its many complications, UI can lead to skin irritation leading to pressure ulcers. Recent evidence indicates that 42.5% of incontinent patients have some type of skin injury. Patients with incontinence are more likely to be immobile and elderly, both of which have been demonstrated to be strongly associated with pressure ulcer development. The financial costs of incontinence care in acute settings include staff time for assessment and toileting assistance, clothing and linen changes, incontinence products, catheter care, and laundry services. Nurses play a key role in the assessment and management of UI and it is a daily challenge to maintain a healthy skin in patients with incontinence.



Upon completion of this continuing education activity, the participant should be able to:

  1. Describe the causes and risk factors for urinary incontinence.
  2. Explain the relationship of urinary incontinence to pressure ulcers.
  3. Describe nursing interventions for managing incontinence in acute care settings.
  4. Describe nursing interventions for preventing pressure ulcers in incontinent patients.
  5. Discuss the role of skin-care protocols and absorbent products in managing patients with urinary incontinence.


Intended audience

This continuing education activity is intended for nurses who work in clinical setting that are interested in learning about the care of patients who have urinary incontinence.

Content shown provided by Pfiedler Enterprises. Full references are available within the CE program, accessible via the link above.