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PLoS One. 2011;6(7):e22403. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0022403. Epub 2011 Jul 19.

Revolutionizing clinical microbiology laboratory organization in hospitals with in situ point-of-care.

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  • 1Fédération de Microbiologie Clinique, Assistance Publique des Hôpitaux de Marseille-Pôle des Maladies Infectieuses, Hôpital la Timone, Marseille, France.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Clinical microbiology may direct decisions regarding hospitalization, isolation and anti-infective therapy, but it is not effective at the time of early care. Point-of-care (POC) tests have been developed for this purpose.

METHODS AND FINDINGS:

One pilot POC-lab was located close to the core laboratory and emergency ward to test the proof of concept. A second POC-lab was located inside the emergency ward of a distant hospital without a microbiology laboratory. Twenty-three molecular and immuno-detection tests, which were technically undemanding, were progressively implemented, with results obtained in less than four hours. From 2008 to 2010, 51,179 tests yielded 6,244 diagnoses. The second POC-lab detected contagious pathogens in 982 patients who benefited from targeted isolation measures, including those undertaken during the influenza outbreak. POC tests prevented unnecessary treatment of patients with non-streptococcal tonsillitis (n = 1,844) and pregnant women negative for Streptococcus agalactiae carriage (n = 763). The cerebrospinal fluid culture remained sterile in 50% of the 49 patients with bacterial meningitis, therefore antibiotic treatment was guided by the molecular tests performed in the POC-labs. With regard to enterovirus meningitis, the mean length-of-stay of infected patients over 15 years old significantly decreased from 2008 to 2010 compared with 2005 when the POC was not in place (1.43±1.09 versus 2.91±2.31 days; p = 0.0009). Altogether, patients who received POC tests were immediately discharged nearly thrice as often as patients who underwent a conventional diagnostic procedure.

CONCLUSIONS:

The on-site POC-lab met physicians' needs and influenced the management of 8% of the patients that presented to emergency wards. This strategy might represent a major evolution of decision-making regarding the management of infectious diseases and patient care.

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