Rapid Flu Tests Reduced Antibiotic Prescribing and Increase Antiviral Use
Australian researchers published a study in BMC Infectious Diseases on April 7, 2021, that found antibiotics were initiated less frequently, and antivirals (oseltamivir) used more frequently in patients diagnosed with influenza using rapid polymerase chain reaction (RPCR) tests compared with standard multiplex PCR (MPCR) tests.
This retrospective cohort study of positive influenza RPCR and MPCR patients was performed utilizing data from the 2017 influenza season. Overall, 122 RPCR and 362 MPCR positive influenza patients were included in this study.
Commencement of antibiotics was less frequent in the RPCR than MPCR cohorts (51% vs. 67%).
People at high risk of complications from influenza who were tested with the RPCR were more likely to be treated with oseltamivir compared to those tested with the MPCR (76% vs. 63%; p = 0.03, OR 1.81; 95% CI 1.07–3.08).
Subgroup analyses of higher-risk patients for complications of influenza would suggest that RPCR testing leads to fewer missed opportunities for oseltamivir treatment than MPCR testing (24% vs. 37%, respectively).
Early oseltamivir use has benefits in improving clinical symptoms, reducing the risk of lower respiratory tract infections, and preventing hospital admission when used in influenza-positive patients.
In summary, these researchers stated, 'The use of a rapid influenza PCR test was associated with reduced inappropriate antibiotic use and increased appropriate oseltamivir use in patients at high risk of influenza complications.'