Doctors do make ‘educated guesses’ when it comes to prescribing. Experience and prevailing wisdom along with what has worked in past come into play. What if a simple blood test could help in some of these situations? Commonly when we become ill, let’s say sore throat, cough, running nose maybe fever, many of us think did I catch a virus, or perhaps do I need antibiotics? Remember: Antibiotics (Abx) only work when an infection is caused by bacteria. For the sake of accuracy, there are many other possible causes. It could be an allergy reaction environmental, or a hereditary illness showing up. Mostly and most commonly these symptoms are from an infectious condition. Even if that is simple to determine, the healthcare provider is often in a clinical dilemma, using their best-educated guess as to whether the symptoms are caused by a bacterial or viral infection. It’s not always as clear as oh, it’s a bacterial infection, ‘oh, it’s a virus’.
Many times they are clinically indistinguishable. You might think well it’s an infection that’s all you need to know but the question of whether or not to treat it with antibiotics versus antivirals is important. I’m sure by now you know about the overuse of antibiotics in the United States and the creation of bacteria resistance to these antibiotics. Often the decision is educated, guessing whether or not to give antibiotics or antivirals.
Presently a new FDA-approved test is available to help. LIAISON® MeMed BV® analyzes three host immune proteins – TRAIL, IP-10, and CRP in our blood when we are infected and can identify if the illness is from a bacteria or virus. This would make the determination of what to prescribe less of an educated guess, yes, and make life so much easier for us physicians.
How does the test work? Our body makes proteins in response to acute infection, this is the immune response so by measurement of the presence and levels of the three proteins a differentiation can occur. Levels decide a bacterial or viral infection. Machine learning generates a score determining the likelihood of a bacterial immune response vs. a viral immune response. The test is carried out using the established credible technique of chemiluminescence immunoassay (CLIA).
The test takes about 15 minutes and is already used in ERs across US, inc. Tucson, AZ, and Tulsa, OK. There are so many medical settings where this can be helpful.
As you can imagine, this will cut down on antibiotics being overprescribed and also unneeded hospitalization which both translates to better care.
A cost-effectiveness study in Europe, Israel, and the US of 20,000 patients shows a saving of $223- $809 for healthcare providers. This was excluding test cost which is covered by insurance.
Ask next time you are in a medical setting if this test is available.