Urinalysis is commonly performed with samples examined for various chemicals, bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi, proteins, blood and cells. A well collected mid-stream urine sample obtained to confirm or exclude urinary tract infection before the commencement of antibiotic therapy enables rapid, correct and reliable identification and antibiotic sensitivities of any infecting bacteria.
For ambulant patients the urine usually is provided through collection of a clean-catch mid-stream urine sample (MSU). Collection may be undertaken by the patient themselves or with the assistance of family, friend or health professional.
To avoid contamination by cells and bacteria, samples should be collected after discarding the first portion of the urine stream which flushes out the contaminating material. Contaminated urine may lead to false positive or uninterpretable results, inappropriate diagnosis and unnecessary or incorrect antibiotics. A known contaminated sample may necessitate a repeat test with resultant additional labour and consumable resources, potential for increased anxiety among patients and delays affecting performance targets associated with throughput of emergency department patients.
Within the Emergency Department instructions for collection of MSU are provided verbally to the patient by staff with content depending on the experience and communication skills of the individual health professional.
The research project will determine whether an intervention offering written instruction is effective in reducing contamination rates and will inform future practice.
Eley R., Judge C., Knight L., et al, ‘Illustrations reduce contamination of midstream urine samples in the emergency department’, J Clin Pathol, 2016, doi:10.1136/jclinpath-2015-203504
Dr Michael Sinnott
Dr Robert Eley
Ms Sue Galbraith
Ms Leeanne Trenning