Emergency Rooms Don’t Recognize STIs

by Elizabeth Ollero

Pain when urinating. Discolored urine. Lower back pain. Lower abdomen pain. Fever. Chills. Is this an STI or a UTI?

It could be either! A new study found that emergency rooms are frequently mistaking STIs for UTIs, which causes a bit of a problem. They’re prescribing unnecessary antibiotics, killing a non-existent infection, and sending you home with the same STI you arrived with. 

Here’s what happens: It hurts. It burns. It aches. You go to the emergency room, you pee in a cup, and they do an instant urinalysis. Great, right? No need to wait long in fear of your results. However… while these tests are quick, they aren’t particularly accurate. When the healthcare provider sees an abnormal result on your urinalysis, plus your symptoms, they assume it’s a UTI. It’s not their fault! Blame the test. Speaking of which.. if you’re suffering similar symptoms, ask for a culture instead of a urinalysis. And if you’re sexually active, get an STI test, too. It could be the difference of being sent home with the proper treatment, or being sent home with useless antibiotics and a raging (and spreadable!) STI.

Urinalysis is awesome, just not when it lets your STI disguise itself as a UTI. Sneaky bastards.


Images via Washington Post and UOIT Clinical Biochemistry


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