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Pharmacy point of care testing contributes to massive drop in antibiotics use


Pharmacy point of care testing contributes to massive drop in antibiotics use

A study looking at the use of point-of-care testing for sore throat patients in a primary care network region identified a 55-65 per cent drop in antibiotics prescribing compared to standard practice.  

The study, which is published in Diagnostics journal, looked at the effects of introducing a new point-of-care testing platform in Townsend, Axminster and Seaton & Colyton PCN in December 2023. 

The study included three GP surgeries as well as Seaton Pharmacy, and found that the use of Abbott’s ID Now testing platform with patients across these settings led to a 55-65 per cent reduction in immediate and deferred antibiotic prescriptions compared to when only NICE symptom scoring guidelines for Strep A are used. 

Out of 144 patients with a Centor pain score of 2, just 22.7 per cent tested positive for Strep A, while less than 50 per cent of patients with scores of 3 or 4 tested positive.  

“In all of these cases and according to the NICE guidelines, antibiotics would have been prescribed for these patients even though 65.28 per cent of these prescriptions would have been unnecessary,” say the authors, adding that feedback from Seaton Pharmacy suggested that introducing point-of-care testing did not lengthen the time needed to conduct a consultation. 

“The successful inclusion of a community pharmacy in this project also suggests that community pharmacists can effectively provide extra capacity in managing acute respiratory infections, either as a regular service or as surge capacity in epidemics,” the authors add.  

PCN manager and paper co-author Karen Button said: “Community pharmacy is an accessible venue for point-of-care testing, helping to support capacity within GP practices, reducing footfall in secondary care and providing patients with the right care. 

“Ensuring that patients are only receiving antibiotics when they need them not only supports antimicrobial stewardship, but it also protects the antibiotic supply chain, reducing the chances of shortages.” 

Local GP Dr Rob Daniels said: “Accurately differentiating between viral and bacterial infections in a primary care setting can be challenging even for highly experienced clinicans. 

“Increasing patient confidence this way is a key pillar towards improving long-term health outcomes. By establishing effective diagnostic tools within clinical practice, we can build a stronger level of trust with our patients and provide reassurance to parents and carers of children who need the right care while reducing the risk of transmission.”

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