Easy new test 'could halve number of antibiotics prescribed by GPs'
A new form of testing could halve the number of antibiotics prescribed by GPs, the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) has said.
An estimated 2.4 million prescriptions are issued for respiratory tract infections in Ireland each year. Hiqa believes this could be halved with the introduction of C-reactive protein point-of-care testing (CRP POCT).
This in turn could reduce antimicrobial resistance which can cause illness and death from bacterial infections.
Studies have shown increased antibiotic prescribing leads to greater antibiotic resistance, which causes approximately 700,000 deaths globally each year.
Hiqa has recommended CRP POCT should be introduced in a monitored pilot programme.
"The method measures the levels of C-reactive protein in a person's blood," said Hiqa's chief scientist, Dr Conor Teljeur. "A high level can be an indicator for bacterial infection which then helps the GP determine if the patient needs an antibiotic."
Dr Teljeur described the quick and easy nature of the new testing method, that "just takes a quick prick in the finger for a small sample".
"The GP then puts it into table-top device for testing and it only takes about 10 minutes until you have a result."
Dr Teljeur has recommended a slow or partial roll-out of the scheme in Ireland.