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Rapid Diagnostic Tests for Infectious Diseases

The term rapid diagnostic tests (RDT) most usually refers to lateral-flow, immunochromatographic assays used to detect certain illnesses in the setting of infectious disorders. Point-of-care (POC) tests are another term for these types of tests. Although there are no universally acknowledged definitions of what an RDT or POC test is, published definitions generally emphasize performance speed and simplicity. RDTs are tests that are unique to a pathogen or a syndrome. In a variety of situations, rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) can help speed up the etiologic diagnosis of illnesses (e.g., sepsis, respiratory tract infections, and meningitis). Because the interpretation of currently available RDTs is not always easy, they cannot yet be used to replace traditional testing. When choosing RDTs to adopt locally, take into account institutional priorities, integration with laboratory process, and cost. If the antimicrobial stewardship team is actively involved, RDTs can enhance antimicrobial prescriptions at the institutional level; nevertheless, this should constantly be evaluated.

Infectious disease rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) with a turnaround time of fewer than 2 hours are potential tools that could improve patient care, antibiotic stewardship, and infection prevention in the emergency department (ED). Several RDTs have been created, albeit not all of them are intended for use in emergency rooms. Their performance and impact on patient management are critical to their success in the ED.

Despite numerous publications on infectious disease rapid diagnostic testing (RDT), such testing has not become standard or a fundamental part of clinical microbiology laboratories’ services in the United States. The emergence of virulent influenza virus strains and novel pathogens such as the coronavirus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), as well as the often fatal consequences of healthcare-associated infections caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus sp. highlight the need for RDT in the current era of managed care.

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