Doctors urgently need a fast and accurate test for diagnosing urinary tract infections (UTIs) to reduce overprescribing of antibiotics, according to health researchers.
Dr Mar Pujades Rodriguez, from the University of Leeds, argues that without access to a reliable test doctors risk prescribing unnecessary antibiotic treatments, which increase the risk of antibacterial resistance.
Current “bedside” dipstick tests to screen a urine sample for infection are inaccurate and laboratory tests are slow. NHS guidelines currently recommend laboratory testing in particular patient groups such as children and adult men.
A UTI is a relatively common problem but in some cases complications can occur when the infection spreads to cause kidney infection or sepsis.
New research from the University of Leeds looked at nearly 500,000 cases of UTIs in patients in England, treated between 2011 and 2015, from records held at 390 GP practices.
Less than one in five patients treated for a UTI had a laboratory urine test to diagnose their problem. Tests were not carried out more often in men than women, or to those who returned for a second treatment as their symptoms persisted, contrary to NHS guidelines.
Existing laboratory tests for UTIs are therefore having little impact on the prescribing of antibiotics…
To find out more, see the University of Leeds article here.
The full paper, published in the journal EClinicalMedicine (The Lancet), is titled ‘Lower urinary tract infections: management, outcomes and risk factors for antibiotic re-prescription in primary care’ and is available online here.