Systematic review of the impact of point-of-care testing for influenza on the outcomes of patients with acute respiratory tract infection

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Journal Article
Reviews in Medical Virology, 2018, 28 (5)
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© 2018 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Acute respiratory tract infections are a major cause of morbidity and mortality and represent a significant burden on the health care system. Laboratory testing is required to definitively distinguish infecting influenza virus from other pathogens, resulting in prolonged emergency department (ED) visits and unnecessary antibiotic use. Recently available rapid point-of-care tests (POCT) may allow for appropriate use of antiviral and antibiotic treatments and decrease patient lengths of stay. We undertook a systematic review to assess the effect of POCT for influenza on three outcomes: (1) antiviral prescription, (2) antibiotic prescription, and (3) patient length of stay in the ED. The databases Medline and Embase were searched using MeSH terms and keywords for influenza, POCT, antivirals, antibiotics, and length of stay. Amongst 245 studies screened, 30 were included. The majority of papers reporting on antiviral prescription found that a positive POCT result significantly increased use of antivirals for influenza compared with negative POCT results and standard supportive care. A positive POCT result also led to decreased antibiotic use. The results of studies assessing the effect of POCT on ED length of stay were not definitive. The studies assessed in this systematic review support the use of POCT for diagnosis of influenza in patients suffering an acute respiratory infection. Diagnosis using POCT may lead to more appropriate prescription of treatments for infectious agents. Further studies are needed to assess the effect of POCT on the length of stay in ED.
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