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Rapid diagnostics – warts and all: a microbiology conference preview

This year’s Annual Microbiology Conference of the British Society for Microbial Technology will be held at UKHSA in Colindale, North London, on 2 May. As usual, it will cover a range of different topics but this year there is a particular focus on the use of rapid testing in the diagnosis of infectious disease and the detection of antibiotic resistance.

To begin, it’s worth restating the way in which the use of rapid diagnostic tests should help in the management of infection. In theory, rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) can play a crucial role in antimicrobial stewardship by providing timely and accurate information about infectious diseases. Antimicrobial stewardship programmes (ASPs) aim to optimise the use of antimicrobial agents to improve patient outcomes, reduce resistance, and minimise adverse effects. Thus, RDTs enable rapid identification of the causative agents of infections, allowing healthcare providers to initiate targeted therapy to reduce the risk of inappropriate treatment. With precise information on the type of pathogen and its susceptibility, treatment plans can then be tailored to match the specific characteristics of the infection. 

This personalisation should help avoid the use of overly broad-spectrum antibiotics, minimising the risk of resistance. Rapid diagnostic tests allow for a more targeted approach to treatment, reducing the reliance on empirical therapy. Reduced empirical antibiotic use in turn helps prevent the development of antibiotic resistance and minimises the impact on the patient’s microbiome. Unnecessary use of antibiotics contributes to the development of antibiotic resistance so the increased use of RDTs should help identify cases where antibiotics are not required, preventing unnecessary exposure. This is particularly important in conditions where bacterial and viral infections may present with similar symptoms.

Rapid diagnostic tests provide information on antimicrobial susceptibility, allowing for the selection of the most effective antibiotic. Healthcare providers can avoid using broader-spectrum antibiotics when narrower-spectrum options are equally effective, thereby preserving the efficacy of antibiotics such as third-generation cephalosporins. 

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Upcoming Events

Pathology Horizons 2024

MacDonald Bath Spa Hotel, Bath
18-20 April, 2024

Diagnostics North East Conference 2024

The Catalyst, Newcastle upon Tyne
19 April, 2024

ECCMID 2024 - European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases

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2 May 2024

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ONLINE - Zoom
Thursday 16th May 2024

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Access the latest issue of Pathology In Practice on your mobile device together with an archive of back issues.

Download the FREE Pathology In Practice app from your device's App store

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