Aim: To determine the influence of rapid diagnosis of influenza on antibiotic prescribing to children presenting with influenza-like illness in the emergency department in a inner city hospital in Istanbul, Turkey.
Methods: Patients aged 3 to 14 years presenting to an urban children's teaching hospital emergency department were screened for fever and cough, coryza, myalgias and/or malaise. After obtaining informed consent, patients were allocated into two groups. Group 1: patients were prescribed antibiotics after only physical examination; or Group 2: patients were prescribed antibiotics after rapid influenza testing. Nasopharyngeal swabs obtained from all patients were immediately tested in a single-blind manner with Influenza A/B Rapid Test(R) for influenza A and B.
Results: A total of 97 patients were enrolled, and 33 (34%) of these tested positive for influenza. Although frequency of positive results for influenza between the groups was similar (36% vs 32%, respectively), patients in Group 2 were less likely to be prescribed antibiotics when compared to those in Group 1 (32% vs 100%, respectively, p < 0.0001).
Conclusion: Rapid diagnosis of influenza in the paediatric emergency department may allow a significant reduction in the over-prescription of antibiotics.