Racial Differences in Urine Testing of Febrile Young Children Presenting to Pediatric Hospitals.

01 Dec 2022
Ramgopal S, Tidwell N, Shaikh N, Shope TR, Macy ML


Dating back to 2011, practice guidelines considered Black race a factor associated with lower risk of urinary tract infection (UTI). Race-based clinical decisions raise concerns about potential treatment disparities. We investigate urine testing (urinalysis and/or urine culture) among young febrile children in the emergency department (ED), revisits, and potential missed diagnoses by race/ethnicity.


We performed a multicenter retrospective cohort study of children 2-24 months evaluated in 26 US EDs from 2009 to 2019 with a fever diagnosis. We evaluated longitudinal testing trends, constructed a generalized linear mixed-effects model to identify the association of race/ethnicity with testing, and characterized UTI diagnoses and ≤ 7-day revisits.


Of 734,730 included patients, 24.1% were Black. Variation in urine testing was observed by patient race/ethnicity (23.4% Black, 31.7% White, 33.9% Hispanic, 30.0% other race). Relative differences in testing persisted over time. Black patients had lower adjusted odds of testing (0.70, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.69-0.71). Among patients with urine testing, 2.4% (95% CI 2.3-2.6%) of Black and 3.3% (95% CI 3.1-3.4%) of White patients were diagnosed with UTI. Among Black patients with urine testing on the index visit, 8.5% (95% CI 8.2-8.8%) had return visits compared to 7.6% (95% CI 7.5-7.8%) among those without urine testing on index visit. Among patients with urine testing on revisit, UTI diagnosis was similar by race/ethnicity.


Black patients had lower rates of urine testing and UTI diagnoses relative to other racial/ethnic groups. This was not associated with higher rates of missed diagnoses or unscheduled return visits.