The effect of rapid diagnostic testing for influenza on the reduction of antibiotic use in paediatric emergency department

Acta Paediatr. 2009 Oct;98(10):1589-92. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2009.01384.x. Epub 2009 Jun 23.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Drug Utilization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Pediatric*
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Hospitals, Urban
  • Humans
  • Influenza, Human / diagnosis*
  • Influenza, Human / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Turkey
  • Urban Health


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents