Life Sciences

Report calls for more advanced diagnostics technology

There have been some outstanding breakthroughs in the development of diagnostics technology on a global scale in recent years.

However, an organisation in the US believes that more needs to be done to equip doctors and hospitals with more advanced systems that make it easier for them to prescribe more effective treatments.

The Infectious Diseases Society of America believes there is an "urgent need" for tests that are not only easy for doctors to use, but also identify the bug causing somebody to feel unwell much faster.

Published in a special supplement to the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, the report indicated that supplies of antibiotics are being wasted because people are being misdiagnosed. 

Lead author of the paper Angela Caliendo explained why it is important for consultants to get to the root cause of an illness as quickly as possible. 

"Delayed diagnosis puts us at an immediate disadvantage against infections," Ms Caliendo commented. 

"Not only is this detrimental for patients and their doctors, it also contributes to unnecessary healthcare costs through unneeded treatments, hospitalisations and isolation of patients."

She used the example of patients who visit their GP with acute upper respiratory infections to demonstrate that the current system could be failing. 

Around half of the people with this problem are prescribed antibiotics, even though most of these infections are viral and are not cured by this kind of treatment. 

The introduction of more sophisticated diagnostics technology could prevent this from happening, Ms Caliendo believes.

"It is critical that we not only invest in the development of new diagnostic tests, but that we also work to ensure these new tests are fully integrated into patient care," she added.

The UK introduced new legislation in 2010 in order to better control the risk of infection and contamination in humans. 

Food poisoning and infectious bloody diarrhoea are perhaps the two most common forms of infectious illnesses reported in the UK, while a small number of people have also been affected by the potentially fatal Legionnaires' disease in the past few years.