The influence of race and sex on gonorrhea and chlamydia treatment in the emergency department



      Emergency Departments (EDs) are a care source for patients with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). St. Louis, MO reports among the highest rates of gonorrhea and chlamydia infection. We examined STD treatment in a high-volume urban ED, in St. Louis MO, to identify factors that may influence treatment.


      A retrospective chart review and analysis was conducted on visits to a high volume, academic ED in St. Louis, MO where patients received a gonorrhea/chlamydia nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) with a valid matching test result over two years. Using multiple logistic regression, we examined available predictors for under and overtreatment.


      NAATs were performed on 3.3% of all ED patients during the study period. Overall prevalence was 6.9% for gonorrhea (95% CI: 6.2, 7.7) and 11.6% for chlamydia (95% CI: 10.6, 12.5). Race was not a statistically significant predictor for undertreatment but Black patients were significantly more likely to be overtreated compared to White patients. (OR 1.83, 95% CI: 1.5, 2.2). Females were more likely to be undertreated when positive for infection compared to males (OR 7.34, 95% CI: 4.8, 11.2) and less likely to be overtreated when negative for infection (OR 0.27, 95% CI: 0.2, 0.3).


      The burden of STDs in a high-volume academic ED was significant and treatment varied across groups. Attention should be paid to particular groups, specifically women and patients reporting Black as their race, to ensure appropriate treatment is administered. Patients would benefit from targeted STD management protocols and training in the ED.


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