The Race Against Resistance
Rapid testing could be the tool we need to successfully address antibiotic resistance
Sherry Dunbar |
At a Glance
- Molecular testing provides rapid turnaround times and accurate results
- For bacterial infections, this can mean the difference between appropriate treatment and the risk of poor outcomes and increasing antimicrobial resistance
- To defeat resistance, labs must not only identify the causative pathogen, but also determine its most likely antibiotic susceptibilities
- Even in their early stages, rapid molecular diagnostics have yielded significant improvements in outcomes for patients with infectious diseases
For many medical situations, molecular testing has enabled previously unimaginable turnaround times to results, making it possible to get patients on the right treatment – or off the wrong one – very quickly. Nowhere is this more important than in the fight against antibiotic resistance. In patients with bacterial infections, rapid diagnostic results allow medical teams to select the targeted treatments most likely to be effective, avoiding prolonged use of the broad-spectrum antibiotics most likely to spur resistance.
Many hospitals have launched antimicrobial stewardship programs for the express purpose of reining in the spread of antibiotic resistance. These programs use every tool in the infection control toolbox – from basic education about handwashing to strict isolation protocols – to prevent both the transmission of resistant strains and the acquisition of new resistance mechanisms. Rapid molecular tests are a key element of these programs. Why? Because they help identify infected patients, detect antibiotic resistance profiles, and guide treatment selection. Some programs even go beyond the standard clinical guidelines, using diagnostic tools to screen all hospital admissions so that asymptomatic, colonized patients can be isolated to reduce the risk of resistant strain transmission.
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