Webinar: Labs Switch from Stool Cultures to Molecular Testing for GI Cases
Users describe making the switch, IDSA guidelines, and lab results
Gastroenteritis testing once entailed days of tedious stool cultures, but today, more labs are making the switch to molecular assays. In a new webinar from CAP Today, experts from two hospital systems described their approach to testing for gastroenteritis and infectious diarrhea, plus a detailed exploration of the associated practice from the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA).
“Fecal Matters: Molecular GI Testing — An Approach Based on Clinical Guidelines” includes presentations by Daniel D. Rhoads, MD Associate Director of Microbiology at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center and Jose Alexander, MD, D(ABMM), SM, MB(ASCP), Medical & Public Health Microbiologist at Florida Hospital in Orlando. Both speakers also fielded audience questions, covering topics ranging from stool collection recommendations to reporting detection of multiple pathogens and how to report positive PCR results if the organism wasn’t recovered in culture.
Rapid Testing Advantages
Dr. Rhoads, whose lab serves 12 acute care hospitals and several outpatient facilities, leads a team responsible for more than 300 urine cultures and more than 200 blood cultures each day. His lab no longer routinely performs stool cultures, having adopted the VERIGENE® System and its rapid-result Enteric Pathogens Test (EP). This test includes norovirus, while previous stool cultures did not, Rhoads said, pointing out that this is a major advantage since norovirus is a common source of gastroenteritis and its detection triggers specific protocols for healthcare workers. He also walked through the latest IDSA guidelines, noting that the society appears to view molecular diagnostics as the future of gastroenteritis testing.
Optimize Laboratory Resources with Molecular Assays
In the second half of the webinar, Dr. Alexander shared data from seven hospitals and multiple nursing homes, including a large microbiology department with more than 40 full-time medical technologists. In 2017, they ran 7,200 stool cultures, but the lab has now shifted to molecular assays on the VERIGENE System. That decision was partly based on a cost analysis that revealed the cost per culture — when factoring in operator time — was nearly $53. Switching to a PCR-based approach is allowing his team to accelerate turnaround time, reduce hands-on time, increase sensitivity, and redistribute staff and responsibilities, he said. The VERIGENE EP Test makes it possible to routinely screen for more organisms and a broader range of Shiga toxin-producing genes than they previously could. Dr. Alexander is using the system to create custom subpanels, such as a bacterial panel, a viral panel, and individual tests for norovirus or rotavirus.
The webinar is about an hour long and well worth the time for anyone involved in testing for gastroenteritis, infectious diarrhea, and related conditions.
Click here to view the entire webinar.
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