Purpose of review
Respiratory tract infections are a common reason for prescribing antibiotics, although not all of these infections require such therapy. Rapid diagnosis
of etiology using point-of-care tests
is a potentially useful way of reducing prescriptions of both unnecessary and unnecessarily broad-spectrum antibiotics. This can also lead to the facilitation of appropriate infection control measures to prevent spread of respiratory viruses
Recent findings Point-of-care tests
are available for diagnosing influenza, respiratory syncytial virus, Streptococcus pneumoniae
, and Legionella
infections using easily obtainable specimens. Their main benefit is that results can be obtained in about 15 min with reasonable accuracy. In many situations, however, it is still important to confirm diagnosis with more accurate but slower tests such as bacterial cultures with antibacterial susceptibility testing or viral polymerase chain reaction testing.
Although the sensitivities of many of the rapid diagnostic tests are moderate, when used at the time of initial consultation, they have the potential to reduce costs, length of stay, secondary spread of respiratory viruses
, and inappropriate antibiotic prescribing.