Technology detects flu in 1 hour, not days

Jan. 9, 2013 at 9:57 PM

CHICAGO, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- Physicians at a Chicago-area hospital say during flu season they can detect if a patient has influenza, a cold or another respiratory illness in an hour.

Paul Schreckenberger, director of the clinical microbiology laboratory at Loyola University Health System, said Loyola is one of only two hospitals in Illinois to use the FilmArray Respiratory Panel, which screens for 17 viral and three bacterial pathogens in about 60 minutes.

"This flu season is explosive and the quick, accurate results from the respiratory panel make a real difference to physicians and patients," Schreckenberger said in a statement.

Under standard technology, it takes several days for the laboratory to obtain infectious disease test results.

"The new system offered at Loyola consists of a single test panel for 20 infectious agents including both bacteria and viruses that can be performed from a single sample," Schreckenberger said. "Traditional methods of testing require a physician to order a separate test for each suspected pathogen which can be very expensive and often requires days to complete."

Faster results can improve patient management, limit the spread of the disease and reduce overall healthcare costs, Schreckenberger said.

"The improved diagnosis is efficient and accurate," Schreckenberger explained. "Laboratory testing with this new technology gives certainty to the physician's diagnosis and allows tailored specific therapy and improved patient outcomes."

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