Antibiotic prescribing for lower UTI in elderly patients in primary care and risk of bloodstream infection: A cohort study using electronic health records in England

by Laura Shallcross, Patrick Rockenschaub, Ruth Blackburn, Irwin Nazareth, Nick Freemantle, Andrew Hayward


Research has questioned the safety of delaying or withholding antibiotics for suspected urinary tract infection (UTI) in older patients. We evaluated the association between antibiotic treatment for lower UTI and risk of bloodstream infection (BSI) in adults aged ≥65 years in primary care.

Methods and findings

We analyzed primary care records from patients aged ≥65 years in England with community-onset UTI using the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (2007–2015) linked to Hospital Episode Statistics and census data. The primary outcome was BSI within 60 days, comparing patients treated immediately with antibiotics and those not treated immediately. Crude and adjusted associations between exposure and outcome were estimated using generalized estimating equations.A total of 147,334 patients were included representing 280,462 episodes of lower UTI. BSI occurred in 0.4% (1,025/244,963) of UTI episodes with immediate antibiotics versus 0.6% (228/35,499) of episodes without immediate antibiotics. After adjusting for patient demographics, year of consultation, comorbidities, smoking status, recent hospitalizations, recent accident and emergency (A&E) attendances, recent antibiotic prescribing, and home visits, the odds of BSI were equivalent in patients who were not treated with antibiotics immediately and those who were treated on the date of their UTI consultation (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 1.13, 95% CI 0.97–1.32, p-value = 0.105). Delaying or withholding antibiotics was associated with increased odds of death in the subsequent 60 days (aOR 1.17, 95% CI 1.09–1.26, p-value Conclusions

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In this study, we observed that delaying or withholding antibiotics in older adults with suspected UTI did not increase patients’ risk of BSI, in contrast with a previous study that analyzed the same dataset, but mortality was increased. Our findings highlight uncertainty around the risks of delaying or withholding antibiotic treatment, which is exacerbated by systematic differences between patients who were and were not treated immediately with antibiotics. Overall, our findings emphasize the need for improved diagnostic/risk prediction strategies to guide antibiotic prescribing for suspected UTI in older adults.

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Paper source
Plos Journal

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