Receiving lab test results identifying a certain bacteria can take more than a day and that can delay getting the correct treatment. Treating hospital infections is becoming more difficult, so researchers are trying to resurrect the problem with old technology.
Doctors generally give patients antibiotics right away for bacterial infections, but finding out which bug they a person is fighting can take up to three days.
"So, during that period of time, the doctor has to guess," said Kenneth Rand, M.D., Pathologist, Shands University of Florida Hospital, Gainesville, Florida. "It's really a guess as to what the best antibiotic would be."
Choosing the right antibiotic is critical in the case of a bad bug.
"It's obviously everybody's nightmare that we gave them what we thought was the best drug, but turned out, it wasn't," said Rand.
Researchers at Shands Hospital developed a system to get answers more quickly. They use an old manual technology called the Direct Susceptibility Method.
The antibiotics that treat infections will have a clear circle around it on the disk, but if the bacteria grows up to the disk, the antibiotics are not working.
"It doesn't help them, and it's almost the same as giving them no antibiotic at all," said Rand.
The hospital pharmacy matches the results with the record of what the patient is receiving and it tells the doctor if their guesswork was accurate or if they need to come up with a better choice.
"What we're basically talking about is getting a patient on a correct antibiotic within eight to twelve hours," said Ben Staley, Infectious Disease Pharmacist, Shands University Hospital, Gainesville, Florida.
Researchers hope every hospital will try the method in order to quickly find the right drug and save lives.
In a study of 34 patients, Dr. Rand's method found about 90 percent of the patients were resistant to the drug they were taking and half of the patients were initially given the wrong drug.