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Women with a UTI usually get the wrong treatment

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Most women with a urinary tract infection (UTI) are getting the wrong treatment from their doctor.

Around 75 percent are given a prescription for longer than is needed to treat uncomplicated cases, and half get the wrong antibiotic, a new study has discovered.

Incorrect prescribing can have serious implications for the women and increases antibiotic resistance, say researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis.

They looked at insurance claims made by 670,400 women aged between 18 and 44 who had been treated for uncomplicated UTI. Of these, 47 percent were given an inappropriate antibiotic, and 76 percent were treated for a longer time than was needed. Long-term treatment was more common in women who were living in a rural area.

Doctors should be prescribing a narrow-spectrum antibiotic for a UTI, but most in the cases the researchers reviewed had instead used a broad-acting one.

This suggests that doctors are not keeping up to date with new clinical guidelines, which outlines the best antibiotic to use and duration of treatment, said lead researcher Anne Butler. Doctors in rural areas are perhaps more likely to stick to older treatment methods.

(Source: Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, 2021; doi: 10.1017/ice.2021.21)

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