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Doctors Misdiagnose STDs For UTIs (It Is More Common Than You Think)

June 29, 2015 2 min read

A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology has revealed that many doctors are not recognizing women with sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and diagnosing them with urinary tract infections (UTI) instead. Researchers observed emergency room diagnoses of UTIs and STDs in 264 women over the course of 2 months. The results were interesting. 66% of the women in the study were diagnosed with a UTI and if those, 60% were treated without performing a urine culture to determine the source of the trouble. It was also discovered that 23% of the women who visited the ER had at least one type of STD and 37% of them didn't receive treatment for STDs for up to 7 days after their initial visit. Close to 65% of the women who had an STD were diagnosed with a UTI first. Jason S. James, M.D., chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Baptist Hospital of Miami, isn't shocked by these findings. As he explains, many STDs have symptoms that mimic UTIs and that many of the tests that can give results the same visit are not available for many infections. Lastly, he says that women often test positive for UTIs when giving a urine sample due to the presence of normal bacteria from the vagina. “ER doctors will then recommend treating this ‘UTI’ in order to avoid potential worsening of an infection,” says James. Urologist David Kaufman, M.D., of New York’s Central Park Urology, reminds us that things are subject to a rushed pace in the emergency room. "In an office setting, the physician-patient interaction is more personal, less hurried, and more complete than what is typically encountered in an emergency department setting,” he says. “I would expect better outcomes as a result.” So, if you have to go to the emergency room with your symptoms and you suspect it is an STD, be sure to say so. There are may STDs that can be treated with antibiotics and so you're salvation could be readily available. If you have already been to the emergency room and are being treated for a UTI and aren't feeling any better after 24 to 48 hours, call your doctor and schedule a follow up. Do you have a story of misdiagnosis? Share it with us. h/t: Women's Health

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