Hematuria is one of the most common findings on urinalysis in patients encountered by primary care physicians. In many instances it can also be the first presentation of a serious urological problem. As such, we sought to evaluate current practices adopted by primary care physicians in the workup and screening of hematuria.
Questionnaires were mailed to all registered primary care physicians across Quebec. Questions covered each physician’s personal approach to men and postmenopausal women with painless gross hematuria or with asymptomatic microscopic hematuria, as well as screening techniques, general knowledge with regards to urine collection and sampling, and referral patterns.
Of the surveys mailed, 599 were returned. Annual routine screening urinalysis on all adult male and female patients was performed by 47% of respondents, regardless of age or risk factors. Of all the respondents, 95% stated microscopic hematuria was associated with bladder cancer. However, in an older male with painless gross hematuria, only 64% of respondents recommended further evaluation by urology. On the other hand, in a postmenopausal woman with 2 consecutive events of significant microscopic hematuria, only 48.6% recommended referral to urology. Findings were not associated with the gender of the respondent, experience or geographic location of practice (urban vs. rural).
There seems to be reluctance amongst primary care physicians to refer patients with gross or significant microscopic hematuria to urology for further investigation. A higher level of suspicion and further education should be implemented to detect serious conditions and to offer earlier intervention when possible.