UTI Imaging Falls Short in Some Primary Care Settings

WASHINGTON – Approximately 70% of children with febrile urinary tract infections receive guideline-adherent follow-up imaging from primary care, based on data from 118 individuals.

“Timely imaging is recommended after febrile UTI (fUTI) in young children to identify treatable urologic conditions,” wrote Jonathan Hatoun, MD, of Boston Children’s Hospital, and colleagues in a poster presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) currently recommends renal-bladder ultrasound (RBUS) after fUTI with voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG) after abnormal RBUS or second fUTI, but data on clinician adherence to these recommendations are limited, the researchers said.

To characterize practice patterns regarding fUTI, the researchers reviewed data from children younger than 24 months of age with fUTI who were treated at a primary care network in Massachusetts in 2019. The definition of fUTI was temperature of 38° C or higher, positive urinalysis, and more than 50,000 CFU on urine culture. The median age of the patients was 9 months; 84% were female.

In a multivariate analysis, post-UTI imaging followed the AAP guidelines in 82 cases (69.5%). The main reasons for nonadherence were lack of RBUS in 21 patients, VCUG despite normal RBUS in 9 patients, no VCUG after abnormal RBUS in 4 patients, and no VCUG after a second fUTI in 2 patients.

Overall, nonadherence was a result of not ordering a recommended study in 23% of cases (errors of omission) and ordering an unnecessary study in 8% of cases (errors of commission).

Commercial insurance, larger number of providers in practice, and younger provider age were significant independent predictors of adherence (odds ratios 2.82, 1.38, and 0.96, respectively).

The findings were limited by the use of data from a single center; however, the results suggest that targeted training may improve guideline adherence, the researchers wrote. Additional research and quality improvement studies are needed to understand and address the impact of insurance on guideline adherence for imaging after febrile UTIs, they noted.

Provider education is essential to continued quality of care

When it comes to febrile UTIs, “it is important to stay focused on the quality of care being provided, as opposed to the usual benchmark of quantity of care,” Tim Joos, MD, a Seattle-based clinician with a combination internal medicine/pediatrics practice, said in an interview.

“This is a very simple but interesting study on provider compliance with practice guidelines,” said Dr. Joos, who was not involved in the study. “I was surprised that the providers did so well in ordering the correct imaging in 70% of the cases,” he said.

Of particular interest, Dr. Joos noted, was that “the authors also showed that older providers and those working in smaller practices are less likely to comply with this particular imaging guideline. This can be summed up as the ‘I didn’t know the guideline’ effect.”

To improve quality of care, “more research and effort should be directed at updating providers when strong new evidence changes previous practices and guidelines,” Dr. Joos told this news organization.

The study received no outside funding. The researchers and Dr. Joos had no financial conflicts to disclose.

This article originally appeared on MDedge.com, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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