Point-of-care testing (POCT) also called patient focused testing or bedside testing plays an important role in critical care medicine. Point-of-care testing is defined as “testing at or near the site of patient care whenever the medical care is needed. Used in doctors’ offices, hospitals and in patients’ homes, point-of-care analyzers and systems provide quick feedback on many sorts of medical tests. These rapid diagnostic devices are used to test glucose and cholesterol levels, perform electrolyte and enzyme analysis, test for drugs of abuse and for infectious diseases, and for pregnancy testing.
There are several advantages in using POC devices, including
- Quick results
- Short therapeutic turnaround time
- Faster implementation of appropriate treatment
- Reduced pre-analytic and post-analytic errors
- Management of multiple chronic conditions
POC diagnostic devices should be chosen based on the type of tests that need to be run. Some POC devices are handheld and some are benchtop models that need more space. The devices differ with sample size needed and how quickly the tests are run.
Rapid Point-Of-Care Diagnostic Tests for Antimicrobial Resistance
Antibiotics, no doubt have revolutionized the way patients were treated for bacterial infections and have contributed to reducing the mortality and morbidity of bacterial diseases. However, antibiotic over use is one of the most dangerous medical threats. They are often unnecessarily prescribed for viral infections, against which they have no effect.
The review published by amr-review.org on antimicrobial resistance states that rapid point-of-care diagnostics can play an important role in improving how we can:
- Use antimicrobials to better treat infections
- Slow the rise of drug-resistance by reducing the unnecessary use of antimicrobials, in particular antibiotics and
- Ultimately change the approach to treating bacterial infections through targeted and precise therapies
Rapid diagnostic tests will improve patient treatment by getting the right drug to the right patient quickly. Second, they will make our arsenal of existing drugs go further and last longer. Third, they may reduce our need to develop new ‘broad-spectrum’ drugs, which are often the hardest drugs to find.
Evidence suggests that with appropriate training, point-of-care CRP testing in patients with a respiratory tract infection (RTI) can reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescribing. A recent study presented at the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Annual Conference reveals that in real world general practice, C-reactive protein point-of-care testing (CRP POCT) successfully helped to identify patients who did not require antibiotics.
Serum CRP is a marker for a number of pathological processes, including infection, inflammation, trauma or infarction. In patients with symptoms of an upper RTI such as dry cough, pharyngitis, rhinitis, or sneezing, point-of-care CRP testing can help to reassure that they do not require an antibiotic, if the CRP test result supports this judgment.
The study reports that CRP POCT takes under five minutes from a finger stick blood sample to provide a quantitative result and helps to facilitate an effective conversation between patients and general practitioners around the rational use of antibiotics.
With advancements in technology, current point-of-care devices are user friendly; they come with on-screen instructions that promote ease of use, disposable test cartridges; require only a small sample volume to perform a test and are of low maintenance because they are self-contained. Advanced features allow non-technically oriented or non-laboratory professionals to operate the instruments comfortably.