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Reports highlight the evolving role of clinical microbiology laboratories
Date:9/8/2011

of the 19 small-group discussions, written by the group facilitators.

"It is our sincere hope that the clinical microbiology community will find the information presented herein to be insightful, informative, and, in some cases, provocative. We also hope that this information will serve as a stimulus for others to begin to think about tangible ways of moving the discipline of clinical microbiology forward," writes Gary Doern, the journal's editor-in-chief, in the supplement's introduction.

One of the reports focuses on new technology in clinical microbiology, specifically the rapid diagnosis of bloodstream infections (BSIs) and the associated condition known as sepsis. A common complication of BSIs, sepsis ranks among the top 10 causes of death in the United States, where over 600 patients die each day.

Since the risk of death from sepsis increases by over 7% each hour that passes from the onset of shock to the start of targeted therapy, rapid identification of the bacteria causing the infection is crucial to saving the patient and containing healthcare costs. Current laboratory standards rely on cultures for diagnosis, a method that can take more than 3 to 5 days to produce results, a delay that has been implicated as one reason for the high mortality and the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria.

"Despite evidence showing that the rapid administration of an effective antibiotic saves lives, tools in clinical microbiology are primarily based on techniques that evolved 30 to 40 years ago," write the authors of the report. "Several technological advances using simple molecular methods have become available in recent years and show potential for cost benefit."

Although implementation of these technologies in the health care setting has been shown to reduce costs by $4,000 to over $21,000 per patient, because of their cost and complexity they may be accessible only to large reference or university-based diagnostic laborat
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Contact: Jim Sliwa
jsliwa@asmusa.org
202-942-9297
American Society for Microbiology
Source:Eurekalert

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