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Subspecialties Bioinformatics, Clinical care, Digital and computational pathology, Technology and innovation, Microbiology and immunology

Resigned to Resistance?

As every pathologist knows, the path from patient presentation to recovery should be a simple one: first, diagnosis; next, treatment; and, ultimately – hopefully – a resolution. But it’s not always that easy, even when the first step is relatively straightforward. In some situations, there simply isn’t time to conclusively identify the microorganism or pathogen causing the infection before treatment. In these cases, patients are given broad-spectrum (or even incorrect) antibiotic treatments, which can slow down the recovery process or contribute to the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). But if patients can’t wait for therapy, how can we avoid such situations? By reducing the turnaround time from sample collection to final result of the pathogen identification and antibiotic susceptibility – and here, technology-driven workflows, especially those incorporating lab automation and integrated informatics, can help.

Accurate and timely diagnosis drives the patient’s treatment in a much more effective and efficient manner. But it’s not always easy. Perhaps the best example is provided by the case of sepsis, where patients may display severe symptoms very quickly. There may not be sufficient time to identify the exact causative pathogen and its potential resistance mechanisms. Therefore, clinicians administer broad-spectrum antibiotics as soon as possible, followed by a more targeted drug once diagnostic results are in.

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About the Author

Steve Conly

Steve Conly, Vice President and General Manager of Microbiology at BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company), Sparks, MD, USA

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