Potential delayed and/or missed STI diagnoses among outpatients presenting with lower genitourinary tract symptoms: a real-world database study

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Postgraduate Medicine


Objectives: Sexually transmitted infection (STI) diagnosis is complicated as these infections can present with lower genitourinary tract symptoms (LGUTS) that overlap with other disorders, i.e. urinary tract infections (UTIs). The study's objective was to determine potential missed STI diagnoses from patients presenting with LGUTS in the US between January 2010 and December 2019. Methods: The de-identified insurance claims data from the IBM® MarketScan® Research Databases were collected from patients (14–64 years old) who presented with LGUTS, which could be caused by an STI. A ‘GAP’ cohort was created, consisting of episodes with potentially delayed STI (Chlamydia trachomatis [CT]/Neisseria gonorrhoeae [NG]) treatment. The intention was to capture episodes where an STI was not initially suspected. Four subgroups were defined depending on the treatment received (fluoroquinolone; azithromycin and/or doxycycline; cephalosporins; gentamicin and azithromycin). Results: The GAP cohort consisted of 833,574 LGUTS episodes from the original cohort (23,537,812 episodes). Post-index CT/NG testing was carried out for 4.6% and 5.4% of the episodes from men and women, respectively. There were ≥2 return visits for 16.1% and 15.8% of the episodes from men and women, respectively. A substantial percentage of episodes from men (52.1%) and women (68.3%) were diagnosed with a UTI and/or acute cystitis at the index prior to receiving post-index STI treatment. Other top conditions diagnosed at index for men were dysuria (25.8% of the episodes), orchitis/epididymitis (14.3% of the episodes), and acute prostatitis (10.1% of the episodes), and for women were dysuria (24.2% of the episodes), vaginitis/vulvitis/vulvovaginitis (11.7% of the episodes), and cervicitis (3.3% of the episodes). Conclusion: These findings highlight delayed STI antibiotic treatment and low rates of CT/NG testing, suggesting late STI consideration and suboptimal diagnosis. Additionally, our study illustrates the importance of accurately diagnosing and treating STIs in patients with LGUTS and associated conditions, to avoid antibiotic misuse and complications from delayed administration of appropriate treatment.

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