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On-The-Spot Tests Could Reduce Unnecessary Prescriptions

Update Date: Nov 06, 2014 11:03 AM EST

Fast, on-the-spot tests for bacterial infections may help to reduce excessive antibiotic use, finds a new systematic review. 

According to the review when doctors tested for the presence of bacterial infections, they prescribed fewer antibiotics. 

Antibiotics only treat infections caused by bacteria and not by viruses. Most patients who visit doctors with acute respiratory infections suffer from viral infections like the common cold. As there is no immediate way of knowing whether an infection is bacterial or viral, they may still prescribe antibiotics for these patients. 

"These results suggest that antibiotic use in patients with acute respiratory infections could be reduced by carrying out biomarker tests in addition to routine examinations," said lead researcher Rune Aabenhus who is based at the Department of Public Health at the University of Copenhagen in Copenhagen, Denmark, in the press release. "Going forward, it would be useful to see more evidence on the size of the reduction and cost-savings, as well as how these tests compare to other antibiotic-saving approaches."

Researchers concluded that the test seems to be safe in its current form.

"This result may have been a chance finding, but it does remind us that general practitioners need to be careful about how they use these tests" Aabenhus added.

The review has been published in the journal Cochrane Library. 

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