Rapid viral diagnosis for acute febrile respiratory illness in children in the Emergency Department

Emergency Department, British Columbia Children's Hospital, 4500 Oak Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, V6H 3N1.
Cochrane database of systematic reviews (Online) (Impact Factor: 6.03). 10/2009; 9(4):CD006452. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006452.pub2
Source: PubMed


Children admitted to Emergency Departments (ED) with fever and respiratory symptoms represent a major burden to the health care system, as well as significant anxiety and expense to parents and caregivers. Physicians often order diagnostic tests and may prescribe antibiotics when they are unsure of the cause of the illness and are concerned about the possibility of serious bacterial infection. However, in most cases, fever and respiratory symptoms are caused by viruses. In addition, in children in whom a virus is found to be the cause of their illness, the risk of serious bacterial infection is very low. This review was conducted to assess whether a rapid viral test done in the ED changes what physicians do when treating these children. We found that in previously healthy children coming to the ED with fever and respiratory symptoms, a rapid viral test reduces the use of chest X-rays and that there is a trend toward less antibiotic usage, and blood and urine investigations. The true impact of this intervention on the latter three outcomes requires trials with larger enrollment numbers.

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