Your web browser is outdated and may be insecure

The RCN recommends using an updated browser such as Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome

Optimising the use of bladder ultrasound scanners to improve the quality and safety of patient care and reduce costs

Jacqui Prieto, Clinical Nurse Specialist and NIHR Senior Clinical Lecturer, University Hospitals Southampton NHS Foundation Trust and Associate Professor, University of Southampton

Jacqui's case study was completed in March 2016 and reflects 2016 prices

Portable bladder ultrasound scanning technology is a fast, painless and non-invasive way to measure urine volume in the bladder. As an alternative to bladder catheterisation, it has been shown to significantly reduce urinary tract infection (UTI), and increase patient satisfaction.

Bladder scanning has become routine in acute care, but despite its availability to the NHS for more than two decades, adoption has been slow and inconsistent. In order to optimise use in Southampton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Dr Jacqui Prieto, Associate Professor and Clinical Nurse Specialist, undertook an economic assessment to establish a strategy for future use.

Jacqui put forward a compelling case. The amount of money saved by using the scanner and avoiding catheterisation was estimated to be around £1,226,822 per year. This did not include the cost of bacteraemia attributed to urinary tract infections. Avoided spend associated with using a scanner, such as fewer treatment delays and overnight stays in hospital were recognised as additional savings.

The set up and running costs of a scanner was estimated to be met within 6 to 24 months, after which significant ongoing cost efficiencies would be realised over its 8 to 10 year lifespan. Co-ordinated management of the Trust's bladder scanners was considered advantageous in order to create efficiencies within the system, improving access, use and training across the Trust.

Although Jacqui's recommendations would not be expected to generate major cost savings, they would ensure resources are better allocated, together with a coordinated system for capital replacement.

You can contact Jacqui by email on

Case Study
One Page Summary