Background: Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory virus with clinical impacts on patient morbidity, mortality and hospital bed management. The effect of rapid nucleic acid testing (RPCR) in comparison to standard multiplex PCR (MPCR) diagnosis in treatment decisions is unclear. This study aimed to determine whether RPCR influenza testing in comparison to standard MPCR testing was associated with differences in antibiotic and antiviral (oseltamivir) utilisation and hospital length of stay in emergency department and inpatient hospital settings. Methods: A retrospective cohort study of positive influenza RPCR and MPCR patients was performed utilising data from the 2017 influenza season. Medical records of correlating patient presentations were reviewed for data collection. An analysis of RPCR versus MPCR patient outcomes was performed examining test turnaround time, antibiotic initiation, oseltamivir initiation and hospital length of stay for both emergency department and inpatient hospital stay. Subgroup analysis was performed to assess oseltamivir use in high risk populations for influenza complications. Statistical significance was assessed using Mann-Whitney test for numerical data and Chi-squared test for categorical data. Odds ratio with 95% confidence intervals were calculated where appropriate. Results: 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%; p < 0.01, OR 0.52; 95% CI 0.34–0.79). 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). Hospital length of stay was not impacted when either test was used in the emergency department and inpatient settings. Conclusions: These findings suggest utilisation of RPCR testing in influenza management can improve antibiotic stewardship through reduction in antibiotic use and improvement in oseltamivir initiation in those at higher risk of complications. Further research is required to determine other factors that may have influenced hospital length of stay and a cost-benefit analysis should be undertaken to determine the financial impact of the RPCR test.
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- rapid polymerase chain reaction
- antimicrobial stewardship