Nursing home residents often receive inappropriate medication for urinary tract infections, researchers say

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Nursing home residents with urinary tract infections are commonly prescribed inappropriate medication, according to researchers from Brown University.

The use of antibiotics to treat UTIs is appropriate only if the patient meets certain criteria, such as fever or a burning sensation while urinating, according to researcher Dr. David Dosa. In their small-scale study of two Rhode Island nursing homes, Dosa and his team chronicled 172 cases of suspected UTI over the course of six months. Of those, only 26 cases met the criteria for treatment with antibiotics, while 70 patients were inappropriately prescribed antibiotics, according to study authors.

Overuse of antibiotics can lead to drug-resistant bacteria and increase the risk of hard-to-treat infections, Dosa noted. During the six-month study, one in seven patients receiving antibiotic treatment for UTI also contracted C. difficile, a bacteria that causes diarrhea and inflammation of the colon. Patients and relatives should allow doctors to make decisions based on existing guidelines, not request antibiotics as soon as there's an infection, Dosa advises. The report appears in the Mar. 14 online edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine.