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Rapid Flu Diagnostics Reduces Antibiotic Use in Hospitals
Written by Jeanne Bohm, Ph.D.   

Rapid influenza testing is associated lower use of antibiotics in hospitalized adults, according to a report in the February 26, 2007 Archives of Internal Medicine.

In hospitalized children with a fever, doing rapid diagnostics for influenza viruses was shown to reduce the use of antibiotics as well as shorten hospital stays. A new report suggests that this is also true in adults.

Ann R. Falsey, M.D., and colleagues at Rochester General Hospital and University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, New York, reviewed the medical records of 166 hospitalized patients with documented influenza (1999 to 2003).

Fewer patients with positive influenza test results were receiving antibiotics (86 percent vs. 99 percent); 14 percent of 86 patients with positive results discontinued antibiotics vs. 2 percent of patients without positive test results. After the researchers controlled for other variables, including underlying heart disease or other conditions, a positive rapid test result was independently associated with withholding or discontinuing antibiotic therapy.

It was found that 61 percent at low risk for bacterial infection continued to receive antibiotics despite receiving a rapid influenza diagnosis. The patients tended to be older, smokers with higher rates of underlying chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with abnormal lung examination results. There were no significant differences between the two groups in the number of days taking antibiotics, the length of hospital stay or complications arising from antibiotics.

Conclusions of the study indicate that rapid diagnostic tests may lead to the reduction of nosocomial influenza.


AMA Archives Media Release

Impact of Rapid Diagnosis on Management of Adults Hospitalized With Influenza. Arch Intern Med. 2007;167:(doi:10.1001/archinte.167.4.ioi60207).

About the Author

Jeanne Bohm, Ph.D. is a cancer biologist by training, a medical writer and an experienced science educator.

The author has no financial relationship to any of the companies listed in the article.


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