Dr. Peterson, an epidemiologist and director of microbiology and infectious diseases research at NorthShore University HealthSystem, in Chicago’s northern suburbs, was looking at figures from the interim analysis of a study he and his colleagues were doing to review presumed urinary tract infections at the four-hospital system. Were they truly UTIs? Or was the laboratory reporting urine culture results in a way that led physicians to treat UTIs that weren’t clinically significant, adding to inappropriate use of antibiotics?
Laboratories in general had been constructing their own Maginot Line of sorts over the years, using culture counts of more than 1,000 or 10,000 colony-forming units per milliliter in reporting diagnostic culture of a urine specimen. That didn’t sit right with Dr. Peterson. Like the famed line in France, the lower thresholds may have seemed like a good idea at one time, but were kaput as a one-size-fits-all reporting strategy.
To reduce UTIs, one lab takes a long, wide look
Art and Science of Laboratory Medicine
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