Diagnosing influenza with rapid tests leads to more efficient care

Published on November 14, 2013 at 8:20 AM · No Comments

"When results of influenza tests are available to physicians at the 'point of care,' they use this information to provide more appropriate patient management," said lead study author Anne J. Blaschke, MD, PhD, of the University of Utah School of Medicine. "While other studies have shown that physicians can accurately diagnose influenza without testing, our results suggest that using an influenza test increases diagnostic certainty and leads to the physician providing more specific and appropriate care."

The study suggests a significant impact from rapid influenza testing on physician decision making, patient care, and use of health care resources, the authors wrote, despite the limited sensitivity of currently available rapid tests, which miss a number of true cases of influenza. The development of more accurate and faster tests for influenza available at the bedside could further improve care for patients with influenza or other respiratory illness, they noted.

The researchers' findings build on previous studies by others, focused primarily on children, that found that rapid influenza testing can influence patient care in specific settings. This latest study breaks new ground, Dr. Blaschke said, by using nationwide data and by demonstrating that the findings apply to both adults and children, and across different practice types.

Source: Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society

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