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article imageCall for rapid tests to stem antibiotic overuse

By Tim Sandle     Oct 24, 2015 in Science
A report has called for a new wave of testing to be introduced to allow doctors to assess whether a patient needs antibiotics. The idea is to reduce situations where a patient is given antibiotics based on an absence of medical evidence.
The proposal to develop tests to allow doctors to make a more accurate diagnosis and thereby reduce the number of antibiotics prescribed comes from a report titled The Review on Antimicrobial Resistance. Such testing would convey to a doctor whether the symptoms that a patient is exhibiting are due to bacteria (and where antibiotics may be suitable) or viral (for which antibiotics serve no purpose).
The key emphasis on such testing is "rapid"; for cultural based methods, which remain the mainstay of most health systems around the world, take around 36 hours to give a result. By this time a doctor has ordinarily had to make the decision about antibiotics and, should the doctor have doubts, he or she will err towards administering bacteria-fighting drugs in order to safeguard patient health.
As an example, C-reactive protein (CRP) blood tests can indicate whether an infection is likely to be bacterial. Such tests measures the amount of C-reactive protein in the blood, which correlates levels of inflammation in the body.
The new report is part of a review body put together by the U.K. government. The review is chaired by Jim O’Neill, the retiring chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management.
As well as backing rapid methods, the review is proposing that a Global Innovation fund be set up, to the tune of $2 billion. The fund would be used to collate new research into new antimicrobials.
In related news, The U.K. government is asking healthcare professionals and members of the public to come forwards as "antibiotic guardians." This is to help with using antibiotics more wisely and helping to conserve stocks.
More about Antibiotics, rapid methods, microbiological methods, antimicrobials
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