OBJECTIVE: Real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing is a quick sensitive method for detecting respiratory pathogens. We evaluated the diagnostic yield of RT-PCR assays and measured the effect of rapid reporting on patient care. METHODS: In a controlled clinical trial, nasal wash specimens were obtained from patients <12 years of age with suspected acute respiratory infections. In addition to the standard hospital protocol, RT-PCR assays for 17 pathogens were performed. The RT-PCR results were communicated to the clinicians within 12 to 36 hours in the intervention group and after 4 weeks in the control group. RESULTS: A total of 583 patients were included (mean age: 8.1 months [range: 0 -107.5 months]): 298 in the intervention group and 285 in the control group. Eighty-two percent of nasal wash specimens tested positive for ≥1 pathogen. Respiratory syncytial virus was the most frequently encountered (55%) pathogen. There were no significant differences between the groups with respect to hospital admissions (intervention group: 223 admissions; control group: 211 admissions; P = .825), length of hospital stay (mean ± SD: 3.68 ± 2.68 days [intervention group] and 3.96 ± 2.67 days [control group]; P = .178), or duration of antibiotic use (mean ± SD: 6.52 ± 2.15 days [intervention group] and 6.97 ± 2.86 days [control group]; P = .490), when antibiotic treatment had been initiated. CONCLUSIONS: RT-PCR testing has a high yield of viral diagnoses, but rapid communication does not lead to decreases in hospital admissions, shorter hospital stays, or less antibiotic use for children with acute respiratory infections. Copyright

Additional Metadata
Keywords Child, Controlled clinical trial, Patient care, Polymerase chain reaction, Respiratory infections
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1542/peds.2010-2779, hdl.handle.net/1765/33224
Citation
Wishaupt, J.O., Russcher, A., Smeets, L.C., Versteegh, F.G., & Hartwig, N.G.. (2011). Clinical impact of RT-PCR for pediatric acute respiratory infections: A controlled clinical trial. Pediatrics (English Edition), 128(5). doi:10.1542/peds.2010-2779