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New test for patients with sore throats cuts antibiotic use by nearly a third
Date:11/8/2013

A new 'clinical score' test for patients with sore throats could reduce the amount of antibiotics prescribed and result in patients feeling better more quickly, research in the British Medical Journal shows.

Researchers at the University of Southampton, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Heath Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme, used the five-item FeverPAIN score to decide whether to prescribe patients with an antibiotic immediately or to give them a delayed prescription and compared it with simply offering a delayed prescription.

The FeverPAIN score includes; fever in the past 24 hours, a pus infection, rapid attendance (within three days), inflamed tonsils and no cough or cold symptoms.

Results showed that using the test reduced antibiotic use by almost 30 per cent and despite using fewer antibiotics, patients in the FeverPAIN score group experienced a greater improvement in symptoms.

But the use of an in-practice rapid antigen test (a test which detects the bacteria, Lancefield Group A Streptococcus, which is the most common bacterium to cause sore throats) in conjunction with the FeverPAIN score did not result in any further reductions in antibiotic use or improvements in symptoms.

Paul Little, Professor of Primary Care Research who led the research, comments: "Our findings show that using this clinical score test can target antibiotics more effectively and help persuade patients antibiotics are not needed.

"Additionally the FeverPAIN score should enable better targeting of antibiotics than the current scoring system to identify the likelihood of a bacterial infection in patients complaining of a sore throat, as it allows GPs to rule out likely streptococcal infection in more patients."

The study recruited 631 patients with an acute sore throat and compared use of the FeverPAIN clinical score, with or without rapid antigen testing, with a delayed prescription
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Contact: Becky Attwood
r.attwood@soton.ac.uk
0238-059-5457
University of Southampton
Source:Eurekalert

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