HealthDay News—Constitutional symptoms, including mentation, often lead to diagnostic testing and potentially inappropriate antibiotic prescribing in older patients suspected of having a urinary tract infection (UTI) or pneumonia, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.1

Angela C. Eke-Usim, MD, MPH, from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues examined the use of diagnostic testing before treating an infection in nursing home residents suspected of having UTI or pneumonia. Data were included for 162 NH residents with an indwelling urinary catheter, enteral feeding tube, or both. There were 695 follow-up visits, including 28% with an infection.

The researchers found that 100 nursing home residents (62%) had an incident infection necessitating antibiotic treatment, with considerable variation between nursing homes. Change in function significantly predicted ordering a chest X-ray to detect pneumonia (odds ratio [OR], 1.7), as well as the presence of infection-specific symptoms. Change in mentation significantly predicted ordering a urinalysis, chest X-ray, and blood culture (ORs, 1.9, 3.3, and 2.3, respectively). In 21.5% of 233 suspected UTI cases and 30.2% of 53 suspected pneumonia cases, antibiotics were used empirically, before laboratory results were available. In 17% of visits without documented clinical or laboratory evidence of infection, antibiotics were used.

Continue Reading

“Antibiotic use often continues despite negative test results and should be a target for future interventions,” the authors write.

Related Articles


  1. Eke-Usim AC, Rogers MAM, Gibson KE, et al. Constitutional symptoms trigger diagnostic testing before antibiotic prescribing in high-risk nursing home residents. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2016. doi: 10.1111/jgs.14286.