Reports From the Field

Decreasing Treatment of Asymptomatic Bacteriuria: An Interprofessional Approach to Antibiotic Stewardship



From the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN.


  • Objective: Asymptomatic bacteriuria (ASB) denotes asymptomatic carriage of bacteria within the urinary tract and does not require treatment in most patient populations. Unnecessary antimicrobial treatment has several consequences, including promotion of antimicrobial resistance, potential for medication adverse effects, and risk for Clostridiodes difficile infection. The aim of this quality improvement effort was to decrease both the unnecessary ordering of urine culture studies and unnecessary treatment of ASB.
  • Methods: This is a single-center study of patients who received care on 3 internal medicine units at a large, academic medical center. We sought to determine the impact of information technology and educational interventions to decrease both inappropriate urine culture ordering and treatment of ASB. Data from included patients were collected over 3 1-month time periods: baseline, post-information technology intervention, and post-educational intervention.
  • Results: There was a reduction in the percentage of patients who received antibiotics for ASB in the post-education intervention period as compared to baseline (35% vs 42%). The proportion of total urine cultures ordered by internal medicine clinicians did not change after an information technology intervention to redesign the computerized physician order entry screen for urine cultures.
  • Conclusion: Educational interventions are effective ways to reduce rates of inappropriate treatment of ASB in patients admitted to internal medicine services.

Keywords: asymptomatic bacteriuria, UTI, information technology, education, quality.

Asymptomatic bacteriuria (ASB) is a common condition in which bacteria are recovered from a urine culture (UC) in patients without symptoms suggestive of urinary tract infection (UTI), with no pathologic consequences to most patients who are not treated.1,2 Patients with ASB do not exhibit symptoms of a UTI such as dysuria, increased frequency of urination, increased urgency, suprapubic tenderness, or costovertebral pain. Treatment with antibiotics is not indicated for most patients with ASB.1,3 According to the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), screening for bacteriuria and treatment for positive results is only indicated during pregnancy and prior to urologic procedures with anticipated breach of the mucosal lining.1

An estimated 20% to 52% of patients in hospital settings receive inappropriate treatment with antibiotics for ASB.4 Unnecessary prescribing of antibiotics has several negative consequences, including increased rates of antibiotic resistance, Clostridioides difficile infection, and medication adverse events, as well as increased health care costs.2,5 Antimicrobial stewardship programs to improve judicious use of antimicrobials are paramount to reducing these consequences, and their importance is heightened with recent requirements for antimicrobial stewardship put forth by The Joint Commission and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.6,7

A previous review of UC and antimicrobial use in patients for purposes of quality improvement at our institution over a 2-month period showed that of 59 patients with positive UCs, 47 patients (80%) did not have documented symptoms of a UTI. Of these 47 patients with ASB, 29 (61.7%) received antimicrobial treatment unnecessarily (unpublished data). We convened a group of clinicians and nonclinicians representing the areas of infectious disease, pharmacy, microbiology, statistics, and hospital internal medicine (IM) to examine the unnecessary treatment of ASB in our institution. Our objective was to address 2 antimicrobial stewardship issues: inappropriate UC ordering and unnecessary use of antibiotics to treat ASB. Our aim was to reduce the inappropriate ordering of UCs and to reduce treatment of ASB.


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