Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can be managed safely and conveniently over the phone with low recurrence rates and a low incidence of other gynecological complications, researchers reported on Sept. 14 at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC) in Chicago.

UTIs result in nearly 8 million visits annually to doctors' offices in the U.S. About one third of all American women have at least one UTI by the age of 24.

The team found that telephone management of UTI "is comparable to office-based care, is much more convenient for the patient, and more efficient for physicians and health care providers," said the lead researcher, David Vinson, MD, of the Permanente Medical Group in Sacramento. "After six weeks of follow-up, about 15 percent of the women required retreatment."

Vinson and his colleagues evaluated data on 4,177 women who had received treatment over seven weeks through a regional advice and appointment call center at Kaiser Permanente.

The women were screened by telephone for UTI treatment by nurse practitioners using a highly structured interview process designed to identify women who might have other conditions. To receive a UTI diagnosis, the subjects were required to have at least one of the following symptoms lasting for up to 10 days: burning or pain during urination, urinary frequency, urgency, pressure, and/or increased urination at night or blood in the urine.

Women diagnosed with UTI were then prescribed antibiotic therapy lasting three to seven days.

The authors note that, "The rates of recurrent cystitis and/or pyelonephritis within six weeks were low. None of the patients required hospitalization, developed urosepsis, or died. The incidence of gynecourologic infections/noninfectious urologic conditions was very low."

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