Is self-diagnosis of urinary tract infections in pharmacy's future?
Ortho Pharmaceutical Corp., Raritan, N.J., a Johnson & Johnson subsididary, plans to market an over-the-counter self-test kit for UTIs that will track the presence of white blood cells and bacteria in the urine. The company claims up to a 97% accuracy level.
The patient will still need to go to the doctor for an antibiotic prescription and, if the test is negative, the patient may have to make the trip to the physician anyway for a diagnosis. As with vaginal yeast treatments, the self-test may only be appropriate for patients who have had a UTI diagnosed in the past.
On the other hand, many physicians and most clinics can Gram stain spun urinary sediment as a relatively inexpensive method for diagnosing UTI right in the office. Urine cultures and urinalysis are expensive, and perhaps irrational, because if Gram's stain of the spun urinary sediment is positive, the patient can be treated 98% of the time with an inexpensive antibiotic. Patients with recurrent UTIs can save themselves some money if they -- or their pharmacists -- do some legwork and find out how local medical centers or physician's offices diagnose UTIs.