There are a number of factors that prevent doctors from correctly diagnosing sexually transmitted diseases.
First, there’s the fact that many people may have STDs without presenting symptoms, meaning STD tests aren’t ordered and performed.
Second, there are individuals who may suspect an STD, but might be too embarrassed to ask their primary healthcare provider about their symptoms.
Third, there are cases when other infections, like urinary tract infections, can be mistaken for an STD — and when treatment is provided, it actually affects a patient’s ability to fight off any future STDs.
Today we’re taking a closer look at the third phenomenon.
STDs Overdiagnosed in ER Settings
So, there’s a problem with doctors overprescribing antibiotics for possible STDs. Among three-quarters of emergency room patients who received antibiotics to treat a sexually transmitted disease didn’t have one to begin with. After the prescriptions were already written, STD testing came back negative. What this study shows is that doctors are giving antibiotics to people who don’t even need them.
How Can STD Antibiotics Get Overprescribed?
When an individual visits the ER for an STD diagnosis, genital cultures are collected from patients showing symptoms of STDs but the results are not made immediate. The study examined medical records of people who underwent STD testing in the emergency room and were prescribed something to help with the infection.
Forty percent of suspected gonorrhea and chlamydia cases were prescribed antibiotics but 75% who submitted testing for STDs tested negative. 7% who did not receive antibiotics tested positive for STDS and never received treatment.
Problems Caused by Misdiagnosis
There is a distinct need for a better system to be put in to place so that patients who don’t have STDs aren’t receiving treatment that they don’t need. Overusing antibiotics in the United States is something being looked into right now by experts.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that almost a third of antibiotics prescribed by physicians, emergency rooms, and hospitals aren’t necessary. Antibiotic resistance makes it so even the simplest infections are no longer treatable.
What This Means for STD Diagnosis
If a patient suspects he or she has STDs, they can go into the lab where testing is discreet and accurate. Some test results are made available quickly and antibiotics aren’t prescribed until after seeing the doctor and confirming that the patient does, indeed, have STDs.
STD prevention starts with protection and regular testing. If a sexually active male or female suspects they have a sexually transmitted disease, they should not wait to seek help. They should submit tests right away and tell their partner of any potential issues they have.