HealthDay News — About two billion dollars a year could be saved if people diagnosed with a urinary tract infection (UTI) in the emergency room had been treated in an outpatient clinic instead, study findings indicate.

Among a nationwide sample of patients treated in the ED for UTI, mean ED charges per visit were $1,072, representing a $772 average increase per episode compared with treatment in an outpatient setting.

This translated to a $1.8 billion difference in cost nationwide in 2009, Jesse D. Sammon, DO, from the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, and colleagues reported at the American Urological Association 2013 meeting. The findings were also published in the Journal of Urology.

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The researchers analyzed data from the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample, which included 10,799,345 patients diagnosed with a UTI in the ED from 2006 to 2009, of whom 81.4% were treated and released.

The researchers found that, compared with the population admitted to the hospital, the treated and released population was significantly younger (median age, 32 vs.72 years), female (86.9% vs. 73.1%), on Medicaid (24.4% vs 13%), on private insurance (32.6 % vs. 17.6%), and in the lowest income quartile (33.5% vs. 28.7%).

“Given these findings, it was not difficult to conclude that improved guidelines for emergency treatment of such a common complaint, and a health care system that offers these patients greater access to primary care physicians, could result in a savings of nearly $4 billion a year,” Sammon said in a press release.


  1. Sammon JD et al. Abstract #1062. “Socioeconomic trends and utilization in the emergency department treatment of urinary tract infections.” Presented at: American Urological Association 2013 Meeting. San Diego: May 4-8, 2013.