Hospital Resource Utilization and Patient Outcomes Associated with Respiratory Viral Testing in Hospitalized Patients - Volume 21, Number 8—August 2015 - Emerging Infectious Disease journal - CDC
Volume 21, Number 8—August 2015
Hospital Resource Utilization and Patient Outcomes Associated with Respiratory Viral Testing in Hospitalized Patients
In 2003, the coronavirus responsible for the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak infected 774 and killed 8,096 persons worldwide (1). It was quickly recognized that this virus spread between close contacts, because 21% of infected case-patients were health care workers caring for patients infected with the SARS coronavirus (1,2). During the outbreak, respiratory infection control policies were developed by clinical infectious disease and public health experts, and their use was mandated in all Canadian hospitals. These measures were attributed to the eventual control of the outbreak (3–6). As a result, infection control practices, including strict hand hygiene, viral testing of patient samples, and use of isolation precautions, quarantine rooms, and personal protective equipment, were mandated for routine use with all patients who sought treatment at emergency departments (EDs) with respiratory symptoms and fever (7,8).
National guidelines suggest that patients admitted to acute care hospitals with infectious respiratory symptoms should receive screening for viral infections by answering symptom-based questionnaires, and they should be placed under droplet isolation precautions until definitive evidence rules out a transmissible respiratory illness (7,9). Viral testing in this setting is carried out with a nasopharyngeal (NP) swab sample, which is processed by direct fluorescent antibody (DFA), PCR, or both to identify a viral pathogen. Viral testing in these patients should improve diagnostic clarity, reduce the number of subsequent diagnostic tests and procedures required, and prevent infection transmission to other patients and health care workers by guiding the use of isolation precautions. However, these outcomes can only occur if physicians and infection control practitioners assess the results of the viral test and feel confident ruling out viral disease on the basis of the results.
To date, whether respiratory viral testing in patients improves outcomes or care processes has not been proven in large studies. Two small studies demonstrated that knowledge of the viral test results did not affect length of stay and subsequent antibiotic use (10,11). However, 1 previous study demonstrated reduced length of stay, mortality, and cost when using viral testing (12). These studies were limited by the following: relatively small sample sizes; only single winter seasons being evaluated; and utilization of hospital resources, including isolation precautions, not being assessed (10–12).
To address this gap in evidence, we set 2 main objectives for this study. First, we aimed to determine the association between the use of viral testing and subsequent hospital resource utilization (antibiotic/antiviral drugs prescribed; radiology studies conducted; cultures and bronchoscopies performed), including the duration of isolation precautions. Second, we aimed to determine whether viral testing was associated with in-hospital deaths, admission to intensive care, and length of stay in the hospital.
Dr. Mulpuru is an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa and associate scientist at The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. Her research interests focus on the efficacy of hospital infection control measures for febrile respiratory illnesses and transmission of respiratory infections in the hospital.
This work was supported by a research grant from the Patient Safety and Quality Committee of the Department of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. S.M. is supported by a research fellowship award from the Department of Medicine at the University of Ottawa, and a Cameron C. Gray Fellowship award from the Ontario Thoracic Society in Ontario, Canada. P.R. is supported by a postdoctoral fellowship award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. S.D.A. and A.J.F. are supported by career salary awards from The University of Ottawa, Department of Medicine.
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Suggested citation for this article: Mulpuru S, Aaron SD, Ronksley PE, Lawrence N, Forster AJ. Hospital resource utilization and patient outcomes associated with respiratory viral testing in hospitalized patients. Emerg Infect Dis. 2015 Aug [date cited]. http://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid2108.140978