Original Article | Open Access
Positive Urine Cultures: A Major Cause of Inappropriate Antimicrobial Use in Hospitals?
INTRODUCTION: Urine specimens are among the most common samples submitted for culture to microbiology laboratories. The objectives of the present study were to describe the indications for obtaining urine cultures in a cohort of hospitalized patients, and to determine the appropriateness of antimicrobial therapy in response to urine culture results.METHODS: The study was performed at a teaching hospital with an adjoining long-term care facility from June 1 to July 31, 2006. The medical records of nonpregnant adult patients with and without bacteriuria were reviewed. A symptomatic urinary tract infection was defined as the presence of bacteriuria in a patient with fever or urinary symptoms; asymptomatic bacteriuria was defined as bacteriuria without urinary symptoms and no infection evident at another site.RESULTS: Medical records of 335 eligible patients (64% male; mean age 68 years) were reviewed, including all 137 with bacteriuria, and 198 with negative urine cultures. In total, 51% of the urine specimens were obtained from an indwelling urinary catheter, and 28% were voided urine samples. Confusion (57%) and fever (36%) were the most common indications noted for obtaining the urine cultures. Only 34 patients (25% of those with positive urine cultures) met the criteria for a symptomatic urinary tract infection; 67 (49%) had asymptomatic bacteriuria and 36 (26%) had infection at a nonurinary site. Of those with asymptomatic bacteriuria, 64% received antimicrobial therapy for a total of 347 days. Confused patients with asymptomatic bacteriuria were more likely to be treated than were bacteriuric patients without altered mental status (OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.2 to 4.1; P=0.03).CONCLUSIONS: Urine cultures are frequently obtained from hospitalizedpatients,evenintheabsenceofurinarysymptoms.Asymptomatic bacteriuria is often treated in these patients, and accounts for a substantial burden of inappropriate antimicrobial use in hospitals. Effective strategies to improve urine culture ordering and antimicrobial utilization in hospitals need to be implemented.
Copyright © 2009 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.