DOI: 10.3390/antibiotics13030243 ISSN: 2079-6382

Experience with PCR Testing for Enteric Bacteria and Viruses of Emergency Department Patients with Acute Gastroenteritis: Are There Implications for the Early Treatment of Clostridioides difficile Infection?

Andreas Iffland, Maria Zechel, Jan-Christoph Lewejohann, Birgit Edel, Stefan Hagel, Michael Hartmann, Bettina Löffler, Jürgen Rödel
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • General Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics
  • Biochemistry
  • Microbiology

Early identification of acute gastroenteritis (AGE) pathogens via PCR may improve the management of patients presenting to the emergency department (ED). In this study, we evaluated the implementation of a testing algorithm for ED patients with AGE using the BD MAX automated PCR system. Data from 133 patients were analyzed. A total of 56 patients (42%) tested positive via PCR for at least one bacterial or viral pathogen. The median time to report PCR results was 6.17 h compared to 57.28 h for culture results for bacterial pathogens. The most common pathogen was Clostridioides difficile (n = 20, 15%). In total, 14 of the 20 C. difficile-positive patients were aged >65 years and 17 of the 20 patients (85%) were diagnosed with a clinically relevant infection based on typical symptoms and laboratory values. They received antibiotics, mostly oral vancomycin, starting a median of 11.37 h after ED admission. The introduction of PCR for the diagnosis of AGE infection in patients presenting to the ED may have the greatest impact on the rapid identification of C. difficile and the timely administration of antibiotics if necessary.

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