In a new study, researchers found that nearly half of women with uncomplicated urinary tract infections received the wrong antibiotics and almost three-quarters received prescriptions for longer than necessary.
The inappropriately long treatment durations are more common in a rural area.
The researchers say that inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions for uncomplicated urinary tract infections are prevalent and come with serious health consequences.
The research was conducted by a team at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis.
In the study, the team analyzed insurance claims data for 670,400 women ages 18 to 44 who received an outpatient diagnosis of uncomplicated urinary tract infection.
They found rural patients were more likely to receive a prescription for an inappropriately long duration of therapy than urban patients.
The use of both inappropriate antibiotic choice and inappropriate duration of prescriptions declined slightly over the study period.
However, inappropriate prescriptions continued to be common with 47% of prescriptions written for antibiotics outside guideline recommendations and 76% for an inappropriate duration, nearly all of which were longer than recommended.
The team says doctors should periodically review clinical practice guidelines, even for common conditions, to determine the ideal antibiotic and treatment duration.
Possible explanations for study findings, which are consistent with other research reflecting rural disparities, maybe that rural providers may not be as aware of current antibiotic treatment guidelines.
In addition, urban providers who treat rural patients may prescribe longer antibiotic durations because of distance-to-care barriers in case symptoms persist.
Further research is needed to identify reasons for higher inappropriate prescribing in rural settings.
One author of the study is Anne Mobley Butler, Ph.D.
The study is published in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.
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