New technology at Dubbo Hospital will diagnose influenza A and B within four hours, preventing unnecessary prescribing of antibiotics and allowing certain patients to benefit from antiviral medication.
Dubbo Health Service’s director of emergency medicine Dr David Lord Cowell has welcomed the arrival of the equipment on what may be the cusp of Dubbo’s flu season.
Dubbo Hospital Emergency Department doctors previously had to wait four days for influenza tests to be processed off-site.
“During that time we would have to make our best assessment of how we should treat the patient including whether they required antibiotics or whether they actually had the flu and we should start them on antiviral medication,” Dr Lord Cowell said.
“We know that the antiviral medicines are most effective if they are started within two days.”
The director said the new technology in the hospital-based and 24/7 NSW Health Pathology Dubbo laboratory would help address growing resistance to antibiotics “because we use them for such things as flu which doesn’t require them”.
It would also ensure patients with “a lot of medical problems who present very sick” get antiviral medication, he said.
Nose secretions are tested by the technology rolled out to 23 public hospitals in NSW where reports of flu are up 50 per cent.
Dr Lord Cowell said in Dubbo “we haven’t reached our peak yet”.