The combination of molecular pathogen diagnostics and the biomarker procalcitonin (PCT) are changing the use of antimicrobials in patients admitted to critical care units with severe community-acquired pneumonia, possible septic shock, or other clinical syndromes. An elevated serum PCT level is good supportive evidence of a bacterial pneumonia, whereas a low serum PCT level virtually eliminates an etiologic role for bacteria even if the culture for a potential bacterial pathogen is positive. Serum PCT levels can be increased in any shocklike state; a low PCT level eliminates invasive bacterial infection as an etiology in more than 90% of patients.
Keywords: Antimicrobial stewardship; Community-acquired pneumonia; Multiplex PCR; Procalcitonin; Respiratory panel; Sepsis; Septic shock.
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