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Infectious Disease Diagnosis: New Guideline on Lab Tests

Microbiological diagnoses based on laboratory testing directly affect patient care and outcomes, including hospital infection control, duration of hospitalization, and laboratory efficiency, according to new guidelines from the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and the American Society for Microbiology.

The new recommendations, which address appropriate and accurate use of laboratory tests to diagnose infectious diseases (IDs), were published online July 10 in Clinical Infectious Diseases by Ellen Jo Baron, PhD, from the Department of Pathology, Stanford University School of Medicine, and Cepheid, R&D, Sunnyvale, California, and colleagues.

Because laboratory testing underlies approximately 60% to 70% of diagnoses and treatment decisions, inappropriate or poorly performed tests may result in wrong diagnoses, unnecessary treatment, and higher costs. The guideline aims to educate physicians and laboratory technicians about use of specific tests in various settings, identification of tests adding little or no value, and proper techniques of specimen collection and handling. It is not intended to replace clinical judgment but, rather, to support individualized decision-making.

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