Expediting UTI diagnosis in long-term care using CLIA-waived urine testing - Primary Health

Expediting UTI diagnosis in long-term care using CLIA-waived urine testing

  • May 9, 2024

  • Adi Chandrasekhar, MD, MPH, FACP

  • 2 minutes

CLIA-waived urine testing

CLIA-waived urine testing is a fast, efficient way to diagnose urinary tract infections (UTIs) that are common in long-term care facilities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that an estimated 1.3 million people live in the nearly 15,300 nursing homes across the country. This number further expands as we consider all long-term care facilities (LTCFs), which also include assisted living and skilled nursing facilities. 

As the demographics of the United States continue to age, the number of LTCFs will also rise, even as the supply of clinicians available to treat them dwindles. This concerning trend demands that we create innovative ways to support their care within the limited resources available.

UTI diagnosis and treatment

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are among the most common infections diagnosed in LTCFs, accounting for 20-30 percent of all infections in this setting. These infections range from being nearly asymptomatic to life threatening, depending on how early they get diagnosed and treated. When treated early, symptoms often resolve within 48 hours, preventing the need for hospitalization to treat more advanced cases. Diagnosing infections is a simple process that involves testing of a clean catch urine sample obtained by the patient or their caregiver. 

In a clinical setting, we run the urine sample through a point-of-care test that gives us preliminary clues about the presence of infection. We can then begin presumptive treatment while we send out additional labs for formal urine culture. This formal send-out urine culture test can help us identify the bacteria causing the infection and whether it is resistant to any antibiotics. 

Diagnose faster with Primary CLIA-waived testing

However, access to care remains tight. Consequently, many patients who reside in an LTCF without a provider on location are forced to seek testing through an outside provider. This can sometimes take several days to arrange. An easier approach would be to use CLIA-waived urine testing on site to expand access to such testing. 

Using Primary.Health’s CLIA-waived testing model, these patients can get such point of care testing through staff on site under the guidance of our clinicians. Results are available within minutes and based on the preliminary results, prompt therapy can be instituted. Also, we can arrange further lab testing. Patients often start treatment concurrently to expedite improvement in symptoms while awaiting those results. 

Finally, studying these patterns over time can also help LTCFs understand the bacterial resistance patterns common in their area.

Overall, this is a win-win model for everyone involved: patients, caregivers, providers, LTCFs, and the wider healthcare system. Contact us to learn more about using CLIA-waived urine testing and other point-of-care screenings to keep your LTCF residents safe and healthy.

Disclaimer: This blog content and linked materials are not intended as individual medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, and should not be considered as such. Any readers with medical concerns should contact a licensed healthcare provider. This blog is provided for informational purposes only.

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