Rational testing for Influenza A

January 01, 0001

Rational testing for Influenza A

The aim of this study by researchers from Australia was to examine factors associated with testing and detection of influenza A in patients admitted to hospital for acute care during the winter 2009 pandemic influenza outbreak. It consisted of a retrospective observational study of patients who were tested for influenza A after being admitted to hospital through emergency departments of the Sydney South West Area Health Service from 15 June to 30 August 2009. 17 681 patients were admitted through nine emergency departments; 1344 (7.6%) were tested for influenza A, of whom 356 (26.5%) tested positive for pandemic influenza.

Testing rates were highest in 0-4-year-old children, in the peak period of the outbreak, and in patients presenting with a febrile or respiratory illness. Positive influenza test results were common across a range of diagnoses, but occurred most frequently in children aged 10-14 years (64.3%) and in patients with a diagnosis at admission of influenza-like illness (59.1%). Using multivariate logistic regression, patients with a diagnosis at admission of fever or a respiratory illness at admission were most likely to be tested (odds ratios, ORs, 15 and 17, respectively). These diagnoses were stronger predictors of influenza testing than the peak testing week (Week 4; OR, 7.0) or any age group. However, diagnosis at admission and age were significant but weak predictors of a positive test result, and the strongest predictor of a positive test result was the peak epidemic week (Week 3; OR, 120).

The researchers concluded: "The strongest predictor of a clinician’s decision to test for influenza was the diagnosis at admission, but the strongest predictor of a positive test was the week of admission. A rational approach to influenza testing for patients who are admitted to hospital for acute care could include active tracking of influenza testing and detection rates, testing patients with a strong indication for antiviral treatment, and admitting only those who test negative to "clean" wards during the peak of an outbreak."

A much more informed approach is required and this information is of benefit.

For the full abstract, click here.

MJA published online 13 September 2010
© The Medical Journal of Australia 2010
Influenza A testing and detection in patients admitted through emergency departments in Sydney during winter 2009: implications for rational testing. Andrew Jardine, Stephen J Conaty, Michelle A Cretikos, Wei-Yuen Su, Iain B Gosbell and Sebastiaan J van Hal. Correspondence to Stephen Conaty: [email protected]

Category: HSR. Health Services Research. Keywords: influenza A, testing, detection, emergency departments, winter, rational testing, retrospective observational study, journal watch.
Synopsis edited by Dr Stephen Wilkinson, Melbourne, Australia. Posted on Global Family Doctor 24 September 2010

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