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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

BMC Geriatrics 1/2018

Urine cultures in a long-term care facility (LTCF): time for improvement

BMC Geriatrics > Ausgabe 1/2018
J. Haaijman, E. E. Stobberingh, L. W. van Buul, C. M. P. M. Hertogh, H. Horninge
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s12877-018-0909-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the most prevalent infections in long-term care facilities (LTCFs). Numerous studies have described the problem of inadequate UTI diagnosis and treatment. We assessed the role of urine cultures in the diagnosis and treatment of UTIs in a LTCF.


In a 370-bed non-academic LTCF a retrospective assessment of antibiotic (AB) prescriptions for UTIs and urine cultures was performed from July 2014 to January 2016. The reasons why physicians, including 11 nursing home physicians and 2 junior doctors, ordered urine cultures were recorded using questionnaires.


During the study period, 378 residents were prescribed 1672 AB courses; 803 were for UTIs. One hundred and fifty-five urine cultures were obtained from 135 residents; 66 of these cultures were performed on the same day as ABs were prescribed (8% of all prescriptions for UTI), while 89 were not. There was a discrepancy between the actions that seemed logical based on the culture results and the actions that were actually taken in 75% of the cases. In these cases, initial AB treatment was not adjusted when the isolated microorganism was resistant to the AB prescribed, the urine culture was positive and no ABs had previously been administered, or ABs were prescribed and no microorganism was isolated.
The most frequent reason for ordering a urine culture was to confirm the diagnosis of a UTI.


In the majority of patients, AB therapy was not adjusted when the urine culture results suggested it may be appropriate. The physicians were erroneously convinced that UTIs could be diagnosed by a positive urine culture.
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