Background: Patients without a regular healthcare source are less likely to be tested, diagnosed, and treated effectively for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Emergency departments (EDs) are a major healthcare source for patients without health insurance or primary care providers.
Goal: This study evaluated the prevalence of Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae in women aged 15 to 35 years presenting to a metropolitan ED with genitourinary or pregnancy-related complaints and the frequency with which patients were effectively treated for these infections during routine ED care.
Study design: Women completed an interviewer-administered questionnaire and submitted urine for ligase chain reaction (LCR) testing for C trachomatis and N gonorrhoeae.
Results: The combined prevalence of gonorrhea and chlamydia was 16.4% (n = 62), and factors associated with infection included younger age and greater numbers of sex partners over 30 days. Problem-oriented care failed to detect infection in most cases, and 58% of infected women left the ED without effective therapy. Through a close working relationship with the local health department, we documented that 92% had received effective follow-up therapy.
Conclusion: Continued efforts to refine and develop tools for the diagnosis and management of cervical infections for at-risk women seen in EDs are warranted.