Point-of-care testing reduces antibiotic prescriptions in adults and cuts the duration of antibiotic treatment in babies, a new study has found.
Researchers from three Canadian universities evaluated the impact of C-reactive protein (CRP) testing and found that it decreases the number of antibiotic prescriptions initiated in adults by approximately 7% across clinical settings.
CRP testing also led to shorter courses of antibiotics in newborns, with an average reduction of between 1.15 and 1.45 days.
The study, publish in BMJ Open, assessed CRP-guided antibiotic use in adults and neonates with bacterial infection, across 15 studies.
The research outcomes were duration of use, initiation, mortality, infection relapse and hospitalisation.
The authors wrote: ‘In five RCTs in adult outpatients, the risk difference for antibiotic treatment initiation in the CRP group was −7%, with no difference in hospitalisation rate.
‘In neonates, CRP-based algorithms shortened antibiotic treatment duration by −1.45 days in two RCTs, and by −1.15 days in two cohort studies, with no differences in mortality or infection relapse.’
They concluded: ‘The use of CRP-based algorithms seems to reduce antibiotic treatment duration in neonates, as well as to decrease antibiotic treatment initiation in adult outpatients.
‘However, further high-quality studies are still needed to assess safety, particularly in children outside the neonatal period.’
Last year, GPs were told they may have to use point-of-care diagnostics before prescribing antibiotics, as part of an NHS England campaign to reduce consumption.