Fall 2018

Antimicrobial Stewardship: Promoting Optimal Management for Patients with Uncomplicated Cystitis

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Antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) remains an important topic in the role of pharmacy professionals in any practice environment and is becoming increasingly so for those in community practice settings. Pharmacy Connection welcomes contributors from the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program team at the Sinai Health System and University Health Network in Toronto to share their insights and perspectives.

This is the second in their series of articles about the role of community pharmacy professionals in AMS which reinforces important information for practitioners while providing practical tips and access to resources to support ongoing AMS efforts within our health system.

Mark McIntyre, Pharm.D., ACPR
Pharmacotherapy Specialist, Antimicrobial Stewardship
Sinai Health System-University Health Network, Toronto Ontario

In this issue of Pharmacy Connection, we discuss uncomplicated cystitis beginning with a quick take of this infection:

  • Uncomplicated cystitis is a commonly encountered infection in community pharmacy practice.
  • Pharmacists should focus on the choice of antimicrobial agent and duration of therapy when assessing patients with uncomplicated cystitis to promote optimal antimicrobial stewardship principles and patient outcomes.


Urinary tract infection (UTI) is an exceptionally common reason for infection-related primary care visits1. More than half of women will experience a UTI in their lifetime with an 11% annual incidence.2,3 Urinary tract infection is defined by anatomic site and complexity. In this review, we focus on lower urinary tract disease, namely cystitis (infection of the bladder) in the uncomplicated patient population.

Symptoms of Cystitis

1) Acute dysuria (pain while urinating)
2) New urinary urgency
3) New urinary frequency
4) Suprapubic pain (pain in the lower abdomen)

Signs of Cystitis

1) Hematuria (blood in the urine)
2) Urine Turbidity (cloudy urine)
3) Leukocyte esterase positive urine (indicating presence of white blood cells in the urine, seen on urine dipstick testing)
4) Nitrites present in the urine (indicating gram negative bacteria in the urine and reflecting the ability of some bacteria to reduce nitrates to nitrites, seen on urine dipstick testing)

The initial assessment of urinary tract infection is based on presenting symptoms and signs, (performing a urinary dipstick assessment if available), and exclusion of other infections/complicating factors4 No single symptom or sign is diagnostic and patient history and clinical judgement are key to diagnosing cystitis. Urine culturing is not recommended for first episode uncomplicated cystitis but should be considered for recurrent/worsening disease.4 If cultures are sent, keep in mind that turnaround times for results will likely be equal to or longer than the anticipated treatment duration. If the culture is positive for bacteria (bacteriuria) but the patient is asymptomatic (termed asymptomatic bacteriuria), no further treatment is warranted.

Uncomplicated UTI:

1) Non-pregnant adult females (without any complicated criteria below)

Complicated UTI

1) Urologic or neurologic abnormality
2) Upper tract or systemic disease
3) Immunocompromised patients
4) Catheter use
5) Males


Many cases of uncomplicated cystitis self-resolve.5 Despite this, symptoms can be significant and concern exists for progression to the upper urinary tract or systemic infection.<sup>6</sup> A balanced approach to education and waiting, culturing and empiric therapy is essential. No one approach (waiting, immediate treatment, etc.) will work for all patients and shared decision making with patients is vital.

Place in therapy Antimicrobial Dose Rate of E. Coli Resistance Dosage adjustments in renal dysfunction
1st line Nitrofurantoin macrocrystals 100mg PO BID x 5 days ~3% Should not be used in CrCl<40ml/min
2nd line Trimethoprim-Sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX) 160mg/800mg PO BID x 3 days ~20% Requires dosage adjustment in significant renal dysfunction
3rd line Ciprofloxacin
Note: higher risk for ADR and C.difficile
250-500mg PO BID x 3 days ~15% Requires dosage adjustment in significant renal dysfunction
4th line Amoxicillin/Clavulanate
Note: broad spectrum, B-lactams require longer therapy
875mg/125mg PO BID x 5-7 days ~10% Requires dosage adjustments in significant renal dysfunction

When treating with antimicrobial therapy, the following drugs and dosages are recommended based on resistance patterns in Ontario and assuming normal renal function.

While fosfomycin has activity against most urinary pathogens, a recent study found it inferior to nitrofurantoin7. However, fosfomycin may be an alternative to the above in those with organisms resistant to more common antimicrobial agents.

If cultures are available prior to starting treatment, targeting the choice of drug to the sensitivity pattern of the organism should be done with the goal of using the narrowest appropriate therapy.


Despite the clinical frequency of cystitis and the widespread availability of practice guidelines4,8, management frequently does not adhere to guidelines. More than half of antimicrobial prescriptions for UTI are for a non-first line antibiotic choice or for a duration longer than recommended.9-11 Unnecessary antimicrobial treatment can place patients at risk for adverse events (ADRs) and C.difficile infection. Additionally, antimicrobial usage will increase the likelihood for antimicrobial resistance and treatment failure.12,13

Examples of proactive strategies to address cystitis management in community pharmacy practice


• Academic detailing on local resistance rates and optimal treatment for cystitis
• Feedback antibiotic prescription data (if available)
• Reinforce avoidance of antibiotics for asymptomatic bacteriuria (ASB)


• Educate on preventative measures for patients at risk of recurrent cystitis
• Increase fluid intake to >1.5L/day (if appropriate)13
• Encourage optimal hygiene practices and consider14

• Post-coital voiding
• Avoidance of spermicides

Examples of reactive strategies to address cystitis management in community pharmacy practice

Patients, prior to visit to prescriber:

• Assessment of symptoms and referral to appropriate level of care
• Consider providing a list of the patients recent antibiotics, if available, for presentation to the prescriber

Patient and Prescriber, after visit to prescriber:

• Confirm indication for antimicrobial prescription (cystitis versus pyelonephritis/other)
• Review the antimicrobial order for appropriateness
• Choice of antibiotic (for condition, allergy history and renal function)
• Duration of therapy
• Intervene as appropriate with prescriber
• Follow up with the patient in 48-72 hours to establish efficacy and safety of the prescribed medication

Generally, these interventions should not preclude the provision of antimicrobial therapy to patients but can prompt an initial discussion and follow-up with the prescriber and then patient for modification after dispensing. If therapy does change, encourage patients to return the unused antibiotic supply to the pharmacy.

Though intervening with antimicrobials may seem difficult at first, there are many opportunities to make a difference in your daily practice. We encourage you to be the best stewardship pharmacist you can be and keep antibiotics working for everyone. More information and resources are available at our website: www.antimicrobialstewardship.com.

  1. Foxman B. Epidemiology of urinary tract infections: incidence, morbidity, and economic costs. Am J Med. 2002;113 Suppl 1A:5S-13S.
  2. Butler CC, Hawking MK, Quigley A, McNulty CA. Incidence, severity, help seeking, and management of uncomplicated urinary tract infection: a population-based survey. Br J Gen Pract. 2015;65(639):e702-707.
  3. Hooton TM. Clinical practice. Uncomplicated urinary tract infection. N Engl J Med. 2012;366(11):1028-1037.
  4. Beahm NP, Nicolle LE, Bursey A, Smyth DJ, Tsuyuki RT. The assessment and management of urinary tract infections in adults: Guidelines for pharmacists. Can Pharm J (Ott). 2017;150(5):298-305.
  5. Gagyor I, Bleidorn J, Kochen MM, Schmiemann G, Wegscheider K, Hummers-Pradier E. Ibuprofen versus fosfomycin for uncomplicated urinary tract infection in women: randomised controlled trial. BMJ. 2015;351:h6544.
  6. Little P, Merriman R, Turner S, et al. Presentation, pattern, and natural course of severe symptoms, and role of antibiotics and antibiotic resistance among patients presenting with suspected uncomplicated urinary tract infection in primary care: observational study. BMJ. 2010;340:b5633.
  7. Huttner A, Kowalczyk A, Turjeman A, et al. Effect of 5-day nitrofurantoin vs single-dose fosfomycin on clinical resolution of uncomplicated lower urinary tract infection in women: A randomized clinical trial. JAMA. 2018;319(17):1781-1789.
  8. Gupta K, Hooton TM, Naber KG, et al. International clinical practice guidelines for the treatment of acute uncomplicated cystitis and pyelonephritis in women: A 2010 update by the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the European Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. Clin Infect Dis. 2011;52(5):e103-120.
  9. Kabbara WK, Meski MM, Ramadan WH, Maaliki DS, Salameh P. Adherence to International Guidelines for the Treatment of Uncomplicated Urinary Tract Infections in Lebanon. Can J Infect Dis Med Microbiol. 2018;2018:7404095.
  10. Durkin MJ, Keller M, Butler AM, et al. An Assessment of Inappropriate Antibiotic Use and Guideline Adherence for Uncomplicated Urinary Tract Infections. Open Forum Infect Dis. 2018;5(9):ofy198.
  11. Hecker MT, Fox CJ, Son AH, et al. Effect of a stewardship intervention on adherence to uncomplicated cystitis and pyelonephritis guidelines in an emergency department setting. PLoS One. 2014;9(2):e87899.
  12. van Hecke O, Wang K, Lee JJ, Roberts NW, Butler CC. Implications of Antibiotic Resistance for Patients’ Recovery From Common Infections in the Community: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Clin Infect Dis. 2017;65(3):371-382.
  13. Hooton TM, Vecchio M, Iroz A, et al. Effect of increased daily water intake in premenopausal women with recurrent urinary tract infections: A randomized clinical trial. JAMA Internal Medicine. 2018.
  14. Dason S, Dason JT, Kapoor A. Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of recurrent urinary tract infection in women. Can Urol Assoc J. 2011;5(5):316-322.

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