Medical Consultation

Respiratory Panel

A Respiratory Panel (RP) is an in-depth test for managing a comprehensive set of 20 respiratory viruses and bacteria in about an hour. Respiratory Panel identifies the most common viral and bacterial pathogens that cause respiratory tract infections with nearly indistinguishable symptoms. In order to determine how to treat an upper respiratory tract infection, a health care provider needs to identify the causative agent as rapidly and accurately as possible.

An upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) causes the greatest number of death and morbidity worldwide. To control and prevent URTIs, efforts have been made to develop better  diagnostic tests. A number of highly-multiplexed molecular respiratory pathogen panels (RPPs) have been developed in order to broaden and simplify testing for viral and some bacterial agents of URTI. Studies have shown that the new testing methods improve sensitivity and specificity, cover a wider range of pathogens, and require less turnaround time time for Comparing these tests to standard methods like culture, direct  fluorescent antibody testing, and enzyme immunoassays.

In many laboratories, RPPs have replaced traditional methods as the primary tool for aiding diagnosis of acute URTIs. Although these tests provide more information—more accurately and more rapidly—than the alternative current best standard practice, potential users and their institutions have rightly appealed for data demonstrating that the generation of this information leads to measurable improvement in health outcomes.

The primary outcome of interest for most diagnostic tests is accurate and timely identification of a patient’s condition for which effective treatment is available. While few infectious agents targeted by RPPs fall into this category, effective therapeutics can be provided for bacterial targets and for influenza. In a recent study, its was demonstrated that with implementation of an RPP that was available 24/7, 81% of patients testing positive for influenza were given or prescribed oseltamivir in the emergency department (ED) or within three hours of discharge.

Rapid Test Laboratories offers the type of testing that, while identification of a treatable condition is vastly important, it is not the only measure of clinical utility for which a diagnostic test can have significant impact for patients and the healthcare system. Other outcome measures include changes in bed management and infection control procedures, use/duration of unnecessary and potentially harmful therapies, antimicrobial stewardship (e.g., reduction of the high levels of antibiotic use in pediatric URTI patients with primarily viral infections), number of ancillary tests, laboratory/hospital costs, and healthcare consumer satisfaction. RPPs may aid improvement in several of these areas.