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New Technology Identifies Infections Quicker

November 04, 2019

Testing Blood For Bacteria

By Sara Bondell

According to the Centers for Disease Control, at least 1.7 million Americans develop sepsis—a life-threatening condition caused by the body’s response to an infection—each year, and nearly 270,000 die as a result. The risk of dying from sepsis increases almost 8% with each hour that passes before treatment begins, making early detection and intervention critical. 

Moffitt Cancer Center’s Microbiology Department has acquired a new instrument to aid in a more rapid diagnosis of a certain subset of sepsis infections found in cancer patients - gram negative sepsis. It’s called the Accelerate PhenoTM System. In the past, it would take the lab at least two days to identify and give precise recommendations to treat infections. The new technology reduces the time it takes to identify the organism  by more than 14 hours.  In addition, the lab can determine susceptibilities, or which antibiotics will kill the bacteria, up to 40 hours faster.

Dr. Aliyah Baluch, transplant infectious disease physician at Moffitt Cancer Center

“Turn-around time is critical for optimal patient care,” said transplant infectious disease physician Dr. Aliyah Baluch. “When a patient has a fever, we start treatment with broad-spectrum antibiotics, but don’t have the exact recipe on how to treat until we have the lab results. With this new system, we can get those results the same day. This helps decrease time to effective therapy, reduce mortality, reduce length of stay and ideally lower the cost of treatment to the patient.” 

Patient Mary Meyer has witnessed first-hand how beneficial those same-day results can be. After a bone marrow transplant in July 2019, Meyer returned to Moffitt’s Urgent Care in October with a fever and chills. Doctors ran her blood culture through the Accelerate PhenoTM System, which quickly identified a specific bacterial infection. They were then able to prescribe the safest and narrowest spectrum antibiotic for the infection, and Meyer was discharged 24 hours later.

“As wonderful as Moffitt is, it’s no fun having to go back,” said Meyer. “I was very anxious to get back home and was grateful doctors were able to identify my infection and start right away on the right antibiotics.”

The Microbiology Department hopes to continue to look for novel ways with new instruments that improve and help treat patients  with an even quicker turn around time.