November 07, 2013
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IDSA report calls for improved, rapid diagnostic ID testing

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The Infectious Diseases Society of America has called for better diagnostics for infectious diseases, outlining goals that require collaborative efforts between Congress, regulatory bodies, industry, professional societies and clinicians.

In an IDSA Public Policy report, published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, the organization makes several key recommendations, proposing solutions and steps toward improving the availability of diagnostic tests.

“Despite advances in diagnostic technology, there is still an unmet need for better tests to identify the specific cause of infections,” Angela Caliendo, MD, PhD, of the department of medicine at Alpert Medical School of Brown University in Providence, R.I., and lead author of the report, said during a media briefing. “Without simple-to-use, inexpensive rapid tests, physicians may wait days to receive information needed to make management decisions, and often make educated guesses to prescribe therapy in the interim.”

The report, titled “Better Tests, Better Care: Improved Diagnostics for Infectious Diseases,” outlines several areas that would benefit from improved diagnostics. These include: accurate diagnosis and treatment of infections; reducing and improving antibiotic use; and assisting public health experts in identifying new threats and tracking disease outbreaks.

“Patient care could improve if we could quickly identify the bacteria causing an infection such as pneumonia or sepsis,” Caliendo said. “Appropriate antibiotic therapy would be administered from the beginning, rather than starting treatment with broad-spectrum antibiotics.”

Barbara Murray, MD 

Barbara Murray

The report describes six recommendations to help meet the goal of improving diagnostics for infections:

  • Stimulate diagnostics research and development;
  • Expedite integration of improved diagnostics tests into patient care;
  • Address regulatory challenges to diagnostics research and development;
  • Ensure appropriate levels of reimbursement for diagnostic testing;
  • Encourage adoption of new tests; and
  • Educate health care providers on the use of diagnostics.

“This report introduces a new IDSA initiative and raises the red flag about the paucity of new and rapid tests,” IDSA President Barbara Murray, MD, said during the media briefing. “We hope this report will inform and educate others about the need for and importance of rapid tests, which may be extremely beneficial in tackling the myriad of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.”