Urinary tract infections (UTI) occur in females and males, but are more common in females. There are several reasons for this. The urethra is shorter in a female than in a male, allowing bacteria to reach and enter the bladder quicker and easier. The urethra often acts as a breeding ground for bacteria. If the bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra, cystitis – a bladder infection – may result.

Bacteria are present in the bowel, as well as on the surface of the skin in the anal and vaginal regions. If the bacteria infect the upper urinary tract, the ureters and the kidneys may become infected. A kidney infection, or pyelonephritis, is often much more severe than a lower urinary tract infection.

Emergency Rooms Often Incorrectly Diagnose Urinary Tract Infections

UTI’s are often over-diagnosed and sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) are often under-diagnosed in emergency rooms. There are over one million cases of UTI’s diagnosed in emergency rooms each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections occur every year - many of which are undiagnosed or unreported. Because symptoms often overlap, it is wise to test for both UTI’s and STI’s – and to get tested more than once if symptoms persist.

UTI’s May Result in the Overuse of Antibiotics

Another problem resulting from emergency room misdiagnosis is the overuse of antibiotics. When antibiotics are overused, patients often develop resistance to the medication. Antibiotics can be less effective or ineffective in patients who develop resistance. This is one more reason why it is essential for emergency rooms and healthcare providers to properly diagnose urinary tract infections.

Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections

According to the CDC, catheter-associated urinary tract infections can cause a multitude of complications, including, “…prostatitis, epididymitis and orchitis in males, and cystitis, pyelonephritis, gram-negative bacteremia, endocardartis, vertebra osteomyelitis, septic arthritis, endophtalmitis and meningitis in all patients.”

Common UTI Symptoms

Common symptoms include an intense need to urinate, a burning sensation during urination, extremely painful urination, pain or pressure in the lower stomach or back, strong, pungent, odd-smelling urine, cloudy urine, and more.

Patients and Caregivers Must be Proactive and Aware

Patients and caregivers must be vigilant and aware. Any suspicion of a urinary tract infection should be checked immediately. Individuals with diabetes are especially prone to UTI’s. Patients must speak up. Go to your doctor, hospital or clinic and discuss your symptoms. Get tested. If a patient – male or female – feels pain or discomfort and suspects a urinary tract infection, do not hesitate to get tested.

Michels & Lew, Los Angeles Medical Malpractice Attorneys

Michels & Lew is a Los Angeles-based personal injury and medical malpractice law firm. If you believe you were injured or harmed by the negligence or actions of a physician, hospital or other healthcare provider, please contact us now.


  1. In ERs, Urinary Tract and Sexually Transmitted Infections In Women Misdiagnosed, Even Mixed Up Nearly Half the Time. Journal of Clinical Microbiology


  2. Urinary Tract Infection (Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infection [CAUTI] and Non-Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infection [UTI]) and Other Urinary System Infection [USI]) Events