(RxWiki News) Urinary tract infections are often painful, bothersome, and if you visit a hospital for treatment, expensive. A new study shows which people may be more likely to be treated in an emergency room or hospital for these infections.
The study showed that older people and young women in their early twenties were most likely to go to the hospital for treatment of a urinary tract infection (UTI). Also, people with infections closer to the kidneys were more likely to be admitted into the hospital for further treatment.
The researchers suggested that treating UTIs out of the hospital, especially for high-risk patients, could be important for reducing healthcare costs.
"Call your doctor if you suspect that you have a urinary tract infection."
Jesse D. Sammon of the Vattikuti Urology Institute in the Henry Ford Health System, led this study to see which patients normally were admitted to the emergency room for urinary tract infections.
Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, are the most common bacterial infections reported in the United States. They are classified as either bladder infections or kidney infections. Women are particularly susceptible to UTIs.
According to this study, UTIs accounted for $1.6 billion in healthcare costs in 2007. Most UTIs can be treated with a course of antibiotics.
When UTIs become more complicated, patients may have to visit a hospital to receive antibiotics intravenously (through the veins). This study looked at which populations were most likely to visit a hospital due to a UTI.
The researchers used the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample to see how many people went to the hospital with a UTI from 2006 through 2009.
Using the data, they looked at characteristics of each patient and hospital. They also looked at which people were treated in the emergency room and which patients had to be admitted into the hospital.
During the four years of the study, 10,798,343 patients went to the hospital and received a UTI diagnosis. A total of 1,800,547 (16.7 percent of the total diagnoses) were admitted into the hospital.
Elderly people were significantly more likely than younger people to go to the hospital for treatment of a UTI. However, young women around 20 years old also commonly visited the emergency room with a UTI.
Male patients were 58 percent more likely than women to be admitted into the hospital after they went to an emergency room with a UTI.
Additionally, people with a UTI closer to the kidneys, or a kidney infection, were more likely to be admitted into the hospital. The researchers suggested that this trend may be the result of kidney infection side effects like high fevers, abdominal pain and nausea. Kidney infections are significantly less common than bladder infections, according to the study.
"The baby boomers are getting older, and unfortunately with advancing age comes more complex illness," said Chris Galloway, MD, Medical Director of DaVita Clinical Research.
"As this article outlines, advancing age and male status are potential predictors of hospital admission for UTI management. Urinary tract infections in the elderly can quickly evolve into pyelonephritis, even sepsis, by the time these patients present to the hospital. Early recognition and treatment are key to keeping down the cost of care and preventing the more serious consequences of a UTI," said Dr. Galloway, who was not involved in this study.
Pyelonephritis is a UTI that affects one or both kidneys. Sepsis happens when the body's immune response to an infection triggers inflammation throughout the body.
The researchers concluded that there were more patients visiting hospitals for UTI treatments than previously estimated. People who were older were significantly more likely to be admitted to a hospital for treatment.
The researchers also suggested that dealing with people at high risk for UTIs outside of the hospital is important for reducing healthcare costs for those patients.
This study was published in the World Journal of Urology on September 27.
Funding sources and conflicts of interest were not disclosed.