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Reducing Delays in Sexually Transmitted Infections(STI) Treatment: A Quality Improvement Project to Improve Timely Communication Among Providers and Patients

Abstract Purpose: To use a nurse-communication intervention for timely provider notification of abnormal chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis infections, to reduce delays in treatment at a large Northeastern United States hospital. Methods: The hospital’s communicable disease report was reviewed daily, and treatment of all patients who were seen in the Infectious Disease clinic and diagnosed with chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis infections was monitored. Emails were sent to inform treating providers whenever a patient was not treated within 72 hours after diagnosis. Data from patients in the three months preceding was compared with data during the three months of nurse-communication intervention and medical records were reviewed for reasons for delayed treatments. This was followed by a survey of providers who received the reminder emails. Results: Eighty-three percent of patients were treated within 72 hours of diagnosis in the last month of the nurse-communication intervention compared to a high of 78% in the preceding three months. Survey results showed that 100% of providers agreed or strongly agreed that the nurse-communication intervention would benefit the clinic, and 80% strongly agreed that the intervention improved patient notification. Both patient and provider factors were equally responsible for treatment delays with p< .001. Conclusion: These data suggest that nurse-communication intervention can improve timely communication and treatment of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. The department has adopted the nurse-communication intervention as the standard for communicating chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis results with providers and patients. Keywords: Sexually Transmitted Disease treatment, STD notification, and delays.