December 17, 2009 in Features

Test indicates UTI that requires treatment

Peter H. Gott, M.D., United Media
 

DEAR DR. GOTT: I am a 78-year-old woman who reads your column every day. I now have a question for you.

I had a urine test and got the report back from the lab. When I asked my doctor about it, he said he had never heard of the test before. I have enclosed the report for you to review. Also, my doctor didn’t do anything to treat me because he didn’t know what to do. Is there anything that I can use to treat this?

DEAR READER: The lab report that you have enclosed is a urine culture and sensitivity test, also known as a urine C&S. This is a common test used to determine whether a urinary tract infection is present, what type of bacteria are causing it, and which antibiotics are best used to eradicate the infection. The report indicates that you have an infection caused by pseudomonas aeruginosa and that it is susceptible to most antibiotics.

I hope that you were mistaken in your understanding, because I cannot believe that your physician did not know what the test was or how to interpret the results to provide treatment. This test is common, and every physician, even medical students, should know and understand what it is for. If your doctor did not order the test, there may be some understandable confusion about why it was ordered, but that does not excuse his refusal to treat your urinary tract infection.

This is a hospital laboratory test, meaning it must be ordered by a physician, otherwise the lab technicians would have refused to carry out the test without proper documentation that you needed the work-up. You would have had to either hand deliver a form or the ordering physician would have had to fax it to the hospital. Another consideration is how you knew to arrive at the hospital to have the testing done if you were not told ahead of time by a physician or nurse that you needed to.

Somehow, there was a huge mix-up, and you are suffering because of it. You clearly have a UTI and need treatment with antibiotics. You will then need to have repeat testing to determine whether the infection has been eliminated or whether further treatment is necessary.

Untreated urinary-tract infections can lead to potentially serious consequences, such as a kidney infection, which is much harder to treat, requires longer courses of antibiotics and, if left untreated, may cause permanent kidney damage. That is not to mention the symptoms you may have of frequent urination, pain or burning during urinating, fever, abdominal pain or blood in the urine.

I urge you to return to your physician to discuss the situation. You need to be treated, and if he truly does not know what this test is for and how to use it to provide appropriate treatment, he should not be a doctor. This is probably just a misunderstanding, but regardless of who ordered the test, the results are clear.

Meanwhile, I recommend you drink two or three glasses of 100 percent cranberry juice daily. This simple home remedy will not cure the infection, but it should reduce the symptoms you may be experiencing while you are being treated.

To provide related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report “Bladder and Urinary Tract Infections.” Other readers who would like a copy should send a self-addressed stamped No. 10 envelope and a $2 check or money order to Newsletter, P.O. Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title.

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