Physician adherence to recommendations for duration of empiric antibiotic treatment for uncomplicated urinary tract infection in women: a national drug utilization analysis

Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2004 Apr;13(4):239-42. doi: 10.1002/pds.862.


Background: Current guidelines for the empiric treatment of uncomplicated urinary tract infection in women recommend that first-line trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX) or ofloxacin be given for 3 days and nitrofurantoin for 5 days. Increasing the duration of treatment raises costs, and perhaps, the incidence of adverse effects, without contributing to effectiveness. The aim of this study was to investigate physician adherence to these recommendations.

Methods: The electronic patients record system of a nationwide health management organization in Israel was reviewed for all primary care visits by adult women treated empirically for cystitis or urinary tract infection from January 2001 to June 2002 (n = 7738 patient-physician encounters). The proportion of cases treated according to the guidelines, with regard to duration, was calculated for each drug used.

Results: Rate of adherence was 3.36% for cases of TMP-SMX treatment (95%CI: 2.56%, 4.15%), 22.23% for nitrofurantoin (95%CI: 19.81%, 24.65%) and 4.08% for ofloxacin (95%CI: 2.88%, 5.28%). The crude rate of adherence for all cases of treatment with these drugs was 8.67% (95%CI: 7.82%, 9.52%).

Conclusions: The high rate of nonadherence observed (91.33%) indicate a need for a remedial education program for physicians to improve empiric treatment of urinary tract infection in women. Since this issue is of global importance, we believe our evaluation can serve as model for other settings and countries.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Drug Utilization*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Nitrofurantoin / therapeutic use
  • Ofloxacin / therapeutic use
  • Time Factors
  • Trimethoprim, Sulfamethoxazole Drug Combination / therapeutic use
  • Urinary Tract Infections / drug therapy*


  • Trimethoprim, Sulfamethoxazole Drug Combination
  • Nitrofurantoin
  • Ofloxacin