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High Yield of Viral Diagnoses for RT-PCR in Respiratory Infection

But, rapid communication of RT-PCR results to clinicians has no benefit on patient care

TUESDAY, Oct. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing has a high yield of viral diagnoses, but rapid communication of results to clinicians has no positive impact on hospital admissions, length of hospital stay, or duration of antibiotic use for children with acute respiratory infections (ARI), according to a study published online Oct. 10 in Pediatrics.

Jérôme O. Wishaupt, M.D., from the Reinier de Graaf Hospital in Delft, Netherlands, and colleagues investigated the diagnostic yield of RT-PCR assays in 583 children (age <12 years) with suspected ARIs, and evaluated the effect of rapid communication of results to physicians on patient care. Nasal wash specimens from all patients were collected and, in addition to the standard hospital protocol, RT-PCR assays for 17 pathogens were carried out. RT-PCR results were communicated to the clinicians within 12 to 36 hours and after four weeks for patients in the intervention and control groups, respectively.

The investigators found that 82 percent of the nasal wash specimens tested positive for one or more pathogen, with respiratory syncytial virus most frequently seen (55 percent). The intervention and control groups did not differ significantly with respect to hospital admissions, length of hospital stay, or duration of antibiotic use in cases of antibiotic treatment.

"The introduction of RT-PCR testing into general clinical practice yields many viral diagnoses but does not have a significant influence on patient care," the authors write.

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