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C-Reactive Protein Test May Help Guide Infection Treatment

CRP testing in patients with respiratory infections leads to similar outcomes with reduced antibiotic use

WEDNESDAY, March 10 (HealthDay News) -- For patients with respiratory and sinus infections, testing C-reactive protein (CRP) levels as a marker for infection severity can aid in the treatment decision and reduce antibiotic use, according to a study in the March/April issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Jochen W.L. Cals, M.D., of the Maastricht University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, and colleagues randomized 258 patients with lower respiratory tract infections (LRTI) or rhinosinusitis to receive CRP testing in their evaluation, or routine care without CRP testing. The physician then decided whether to treat with immediate, delayed or no antibiotics. The researchers compared antibiotic use in the CRP-tested and non-tested groups following the physician visit and during the 28-day follow-up, as well as clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction.

The investigators found that, following the physician visit, 43.4 percent of the CRP-tested patients used antibiotics compared to 56.6 percent of non-tested patients. This difference persisted in the 28-day follow up, with 52.7 percent of CRP-tested patients and 65.1 percent of non-tested patients using antibiotics. Delayed prescriptions in the CRP-tested group were filled in 23 percent of cases compared to 72 percent of the non-tested patients. Recovery rates were similar in both groups and patient satisfaction was higher in those receiving CRP testing.

"CRP point-of-care testing to assist in prescribing decisions, including delayed prescribing, for LRTI and rhinosinusitis may be a useful strategy to decrease antibiotic use and increase patient satisfaction without compromising patient recovery," the authors write.

The study was funded by Orion Diagnostica, which manufactures the QuikRead point-of-care C-reactive protein testing devices. One study author reported receiving funds from Orion Diagnostica, as well as Axis-Shield.

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