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Help for women's urinary tract infections

Ann Arbor---Women with common urinary tract infections can safely get the same diagnosis and prescription over the phone as they would from a visit to their doctor, leading to identical relief with far less hassle and cost, a new study finds.

And, the research concludes, managed care insurance systems that set a single guideline for treating the painful but uncomplicated condition can standardize care, eliminate unnecessary tests and minimize the risk of antibiotic resistance while giving patients quicker treatment.

The study is published in the June issue of the American Journal of Medicine by researchers from the University of Michigan Health System and several medical organizations in Washington state. The results are based on a two-year study of more than 3,800 women aged 18 to 55.

"If our guideline was widely implemented, millions of women would get faster and equally effective help through a telephone conversation with a nurse and a three-day course of antibiotics, while saving vast amounts of time and money wasted on urine tests and doctor visits," says lead author Sanjay Saint, M.D., M.P.H., lecturer in the UMHS Department of Internal Medicine.

Uncomplicated urinary tract infection, a bacteria-caused ailment also known as cystitis, plagues up to half of all women during their lives, resulting in an estimated 7 million office visits each year and costing the nation $1 billion a year to treat. Many women are all too familiar with the disease's irritating symptoms---an overwhelming urge to urinate frequently, burning sensations and even bleeding during urination, and accompanying abdominal and back pain.

Many women have also experienced inconsistent treatment of cystitis from doctor to doctor and region to region. Despite its wide prevalence and the availability of inexpensive antibiotic treatments, physicians don't all treat cystitis the same way. The result is unnecessary office visits, excess lab tests including urine cultures, an
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Contact: Kara Gavin
kegavin@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan
25-Jun-1999


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