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To determine the number of urine cultures ordered for women who presented to the emergency department (ED) with symptoms of uncomplicated UTI, and whether a culture result impacted subsequent management.
This was a retrospective chart review of non-pregnant women aged 18-39 presenting to one of two academic EDs with a discharge diagnosis of uncomplicated UTI over a one-year study period. Patients were excluded if there was documentation of fever, immunocompromised state, diabetes mellitus, absence of lower urinary tract symptoms, ED administration of intravenous antibiotics, a previous UTI treated with antibiotics in the last 90 days, two weeks post-partum or post-instrumentation.
Of the 512 charts included in the analysis, 494 (96.5%) patients had a urinalysis, of which 463 (93.7%) had positive leukocyte esterase and 90 (18.2%) had positive nitrites. 370 patients (72.3%) had urine cultures performed, of which 236 (63.8%) were positive. 505 (98.6%) patients received antibiotics (53.9% Macrobid; 22.6% Ciprofloxacin; 15.0% Septra; 6.7% other; 1.8% not documented). 7 (1.9%) cultures grew organisms resistant to the prescribed antibiotic; 2 (0.5%) patients received new prescriptions.
For the majority of young female patients with an uncomplicated UTI, urine cultures did not change management in the ED setting. However, when the diagnosis is uncertain based on symptomology and urinalyses alone, a urine culture may be warranted. Greater efforts should be directed towards educating emergency physicians on accurately diagnosing uncomplicated cystitis and the limited impact of urine cultures on treatment once a diagnosis has been made.
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