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Rapid Flu Testing Decreases Antibiotic Use in Hospitalized Adults

ed to receive antibiotics despite their rapid influenza diagnosis,” the authors write. “Patients who continued to receive antibiotics were more often older, were smokers with higher rates of underlying chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and had abnormal lung examination results. These trends suggest that physicians were not indiscriminate with their therapy but rather responding to a perceived increased risk of bacterial infection in an older and frailer group.”

No significant differences were found between the two groups in the number of days taking antibiotics, the length of hospital stay or complications arising from antibiotics. Antiviral use was more common among those with positive test results (73 percent, or 63 out of 86 patients) than those with negative or no test results (8 percent, or six out of 80 patients).

Rapid diagnostic tests may affect not only the patient tested, but also lead to broader benefits, such as the reduction of nosocomial (hospital-acquired) influenza. “Given the environment of increasingly severe antibiotic-resistant nosocomial infections, control of inappropriate antibiotic use is highly desirable,” the authors write. “With ever more sophisticated tools … rapid accurate diagnosis for a wide number of viral pathogens will become available in the near future. To optimize use of these new diagnostic tools and limit antibiotic use in patients with viral infection, more accurate methods of diagnosing concomitant bacterial infections are needed.”

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