Background: Many women with positive screening tests for chlamydia or gonorrhea are not promptly treated and are at risk for complications and further disease transmission. Improved methods for notifying infected patients might increase timely treatment in this population.
Goal: Describe notification procedures at STD clinics in Washington, DC; Los Angeles; and San Diego and compare timeliness of treatment during 2000 to 2002.
Study: Interviews were conducted to determine methods for notifying infected patients. Data were abstracted from 327 medical records of women with chlamydia or gonorrhea who had not been treated presumptively. The interval between specimen collection and treatment ("time to treatment") was calculated.
Results: Each clinic had different procedures for notifying untreated infected women. Among those treated, the median time to treatment was 18 days in Washington, DC, and 8 days in Los Angeles. In San Diego, the median time to treatment was initially 14 days, which improved to 7 days after patient-notification procedures were changed.
Conclusion: Simple changes in patient notification procedures can decrease time to treatment at STD clinics. STD programs should evaluate time to treatment and institute methods for efficient patient follow-up.