Pharmacies could ease UTI treatment
medwireNews: GP workload could be reduced if community pharmacies were able to supply trimethoprim for uncomplicated urinary tract infections (UTIs), a study published in the British Journal of General Practice suggests.
Authors Elizabeth McGovern, from Gartnavel Royal Hospital in Glasgow, and colleagues note that "community pharmacists are already familiar with symptomatic UTI management," and so their involvement in providing trimethoprim through patient group direction (PGD) could "improve patient access and extend treatment options."
A total of 153 women with symptoms suggestive of a UTI participated in the study. Of these, 97 presented to one of 10 participating pharmacies with GP prescriptions.
The remaining 56 presented directly to the pharmacy and 41 were given trimethoprim via PGD, while 15 received symptomatic management.
The researchers note that women seeking pharmacy management presented earlier than those with GP prescriptions, and approximately one-third attended at the weekend when GP surgeries were closed.
Indeed, "convenience, difficulties obtaining a GP appointment, and reluctance to trouble GPs with a non-emergency problem," were cited by the women as reasons for preferentially attending the pharmacy for symptom management.
McGovern and colleagues report that resolution of symptoms was similar irrespective of whether women received a GP prescription or pharmacy management.
Pharmacists when interviewed were unanimously in favour of providing pharmacy management of UTIs, valuing the increased professional role.
They recognised the need for antibiotic stewardship and so welcomed the strict PGD protocol required to supply trimethoprim. They were more reluctant to supply alkalinising agents, for which there is limited evidence of efficacy.
"The current study provides evidence of demand and support, from patients and pharmacists, for improved access to treatment for UTIs through community pharmacies," the researchers conclude.
medwireNews is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2013
By Lucy Piper, Senior medwireNews Reporter