Lutheran Introduces New Rapid Testing to Help Identify Bloodstream Infections

Lutheran’s microbiology team in forefront of using “technology of the future”

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Thursday, April 3, 2014) – Lutheran Hospital is the first hospital in Indiana to introduce a new rapid molecular test for identifying sepsis-causing bacteria. Most tests for bloodstream infections take 24-hours to five days for results, but this new test detects results in just two to three hours.

Sepsis, a consequence of a serious infection, often with a bloodstream infection, affects more than 750,000 Americans each year, and kills more than 215,000.i Studies have shown that delayed administration of appropriate antibiotics is associated with a 7.6% decrease in survival rate for each hour that therapy is delayed.ii Earlier identification of the bacteria that cause sepsis has been associated with improved patient outcomes.iii,iV Rapid molecular testing of blood cultures has been shown to reduce bacterial identification time.iii

The new test, called the Verigene® Gram-Positive Blood Culture Nucleic Acid Test enables Lutheran Medical Group physicians to quickly diagnose patients who demonstrate symptoms of bloodstream infection days earlier than conventional methods. Given the time-sensitive nature of this disease, delivery of this information is critical as it provides faster detection of the specific infection-causing bacteria as well as key resistance markers.

“Avoiding potentially more serious infections is a really exciting aspect of this new test,” said April Morrison, MD, medical director for infection control, Lutheran Hospital. “The new analyzer gives us gene technology that no one in the state has had previously. Having results sooner and identifying resistant genes enables us to adjust treatment swiftly and with better accuracy, which decreases unnecessary antibiotic use and can therefore improve recovery times and outcomes."

The traditional method of testing requires time to grow cells in the culture whereas the new one uses genetics so it significantly reduces the time to produce results. 

“We have seen an increase in infections resistant to medications now compared to what we saw years ago,” said Chris Dempsher, MD, medical director and chief pathologist for laboratory, Lutheran Hospital. “This partnership with our pharmacy enhances reporting, communication with the medical staff and optimizes antibiotic therapy. The Verigene test reduces the patient’s morbidity, and in some cases, their length of stay in the hospital.”

Here is an example of how sepsis may initially appear benign but quickly turns for the worst. Someone has a cough, just a cough. Or is it? They become weak, dizzy, and feverish. When they are so ill that they feel they must go to the ER, they are found to have a high infection count, kidney failure, and low blood pressure. They are told they are critically ill—they are septic. The patient is treated with medication while waiting for test results.

Taking the example another step to demonstrates the potential impact of this new technology. The Verigene test identifies the patient’s infection and that the bacteria are resistant to that particular medication. Another antibiotic is administered and as a result, the patient’s recovery time is cut in half. 

The antimicrobial stewardship team comprised of microbiologists, an infection control nurse, an infectious disease pharmacist and an infectious disease physician meets two- to three-times per week to discuss patients with positive cultures. The team ensures the appropriate antibiotics are prescribed by following the patient’s progress. The team has been instrumental with bringing the technology to Fort Wayne first. “It really is technology of the future,” Dr. Dempsher said.

The Verigene Gram-Positive Blood Culture Nucleic Acid Test was developed by Nanosphere, Inc.

  i1. Angus et al. 2001. Critical Care Medicine: 29(7):1303-10
  iiKumar et al. 2006. Critical Care Medicine: 34(6): 1589-1596
  iiiLy et al. 2008. Journal of Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management, 4:637-40
  iVBauer et al. 2010. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 51:1074-80


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