A recent study shows that doctors require more accurate and rapid testing capabilities for UTI in order to decrease overprescribing of antibiotics.
The study was published in the journal, EClinicalMedicine.
Dr Mar Pujades Rodriguez, from the University of Leeds, asserts that without access to a reliable test, doctors tend to prescribe unnecessary antibiotic treatments, which increase the risk of antibacterial resistance.
Current dipstick tests to screen a urine sample for infection are inaccurate and laboratory tests are slow. National Health Service (NHS) guidelines currently recommend laboratory testing in particular patient groups such as children and adult men.
Urinary tract infection is a common problem but in some cases, complications may occur when the infection spreads to cause infection in the kidney.
The research conducted at the University of Leeds looked at nearly 5,00,000 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.
The study also found that one in five patients who have to return to their doctors for a second round of treatment for a UTI are being prescribed the same antibiotic that was given to them for the first time, which is not recommended the practice, and could increase the chance of resistance developing.
Lead researcher Dr Rodriguez said: “Doctors are currently limited in their options when somebody shows signs of having a UTI, and they urgently need access to accurate rapid diagnostics tests.”
“UTIs are one of the most common reasons that antibiotics are prescribed, so the potential contribution this is causing to antibiotic resistance might be very significant. In addition, many patients may be making things worse by taking leftover antibiotics that they have been prescribed and using them to treat other infections, or by not finishing their course of treatment,” he added.
Doctors can currently use a laboratory test to diagnose the urine infection, but it takes around two to three days to provide the results. The test is supposed to ensure that the patient actually has a UTI, and that the right antibiotic is prescribed to treat it.