Why is asymptomatic bacteriuria overtreated? A tertiary care institutional survey of resident physicians

Myung Jin Lee, Moonsuk Kim, Nak Hyun Kim, Chung Jong Kim, Kyoung Ho Song, Pyoeng Gyun Choe, Wan Beom Park, Ji Hwan Bang, Eu Suk Kim, Sang Won Park, Nam Joong Kim, Myoung Don Oh, Hong Bin Kim

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64 Scopus citations


Background: Asymptomatic bacteriuria (ABU) is common and often leads to unnecessary antimicrobial use. Reducing antibiotic overuse for ABU is therefore an important issue for antimicrobial stewardship. We performed this study to investigate the appropriateness of ABU management and to evaluate physicians' knowledge and practice regarding ABU. Methods: We reviewed all urine cultures of ≥105 cfu/mL of bacteria among inpatients in a 900-bed hospital in 2011. Each episode of bacteriuria was classified into ABU or urinary tract infection (UTI). ABU was defined as a positive urine culture (≥105 cfu/mL) without symptoms or signs suggesting UTI. In October 2012 a cross-sectional survey of resident physicians was undertaken using an anonymous, self-administered questionnaire. Results: We identified 219 ABU cases among 1167 positive urine cultures, of which 70 (32.0 %) were inappropriately treated. Female gender, old age, pyuria, hematuria, and positive nitrite on urinalysis were associated with inappropriate ABU treatment in a multivariate analysis (P < 0.05). The response rate to the survey was 74.2 % (95/128). The mean knowledge score was 37.3 %, and 33.7 % of respondents were able to distinguish ABU from UTI, but less than half knew the indications for treating ABU. Even after ABU was correctly diagnosed, concerns about postoperative infections (38.6 %), UTI (9.1 %), and abnormal urinalysis (29.5 %) prevented proper management. About half of the respondents reported to prescribing antibiotics for ABU despite knowing they were not indicated. Conclusions: About one third of ABUs were inappropriately managed. Lack of knowledge and discrepancies between knowledge and practice, contributed to antimicrobial overuse for ABU. Our findings highlight the importance of developing interventions, including education, audit and feedback, to tackle the problem of inappropriate treatment of ABU.

Original languageEnglish
Article number289
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - 26 Jul 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Lee et al.


  • Antibiotics
  • Asymptomatic bacteriuria
  • Physicians
  • Survey
  • Urinary tract infection


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