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Rapid diagnosis tools will solve antibiotic crisis, says expert


23 October 2015

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The solution to antimicrobial resistance is developing rapid diagnosis tools, a government review has recommended today.

The report, led by economic expert Jim O’Neill (pictured), deemed the use of antibiotics in the UK “wasteful” leading to “massive costs” and “health risks for the near future”.

The solution to antimicrobial resistance is developing rapid diagnosis tools, a government review has recommended today.

The report, led by economic expert Jim O’Neill (pictured), deemed the use of antibiotics in the UK “wasteful” leading to “massive costs” and “health risks for the near future”.

It recommended that government focuses on developing rapid diagnosis tools for bacterial infections, which would be cost-saving and save GP appointments as a first ‘screening’ for bacterial infections could be done in pharmacies.

“Rapid diagnostic tools for bacterial infections, which allow doctors to identify the nature of an infection in minutes instead of hours or days, have the potential to transform the diagnosis and treatment process from an empirical one to a precise one,” it said.

This could also be cost-effective as a rapid diagnosis would reduce the length if hospital stays, and a study in the report from Tufts University, Massachusetts, America, estimated that in a US hospital a resistant infection costs between $18,588 and $29,069 per patient.

“Even when an infection is not drug-resistant, it is common that without a rapid and reliable test a doctor can ‘miss out’ on giving an antibiotic to someone who actually needed it. That patient may deteriorate and end up in a hospital, out of hours: in this case, from a financial point of view, the doctor’s surgery has shifted much higher costs to the hospital system that dwarf any ‘saving’ derived from not using a test to guide the prescription,” the report read.

The test would quickly tell the health professional if the infection is bacterial or viral, what type of bacteria is causing it, and whether it is resistant or susceptible to antibiotics or existing drugs.

“Ultimately what we want are high quality, affordable rapid diagnostics that can be rolled out as widely as possible,” the report read.

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