CRP testing can cut prescribing

Identifying which patients with respiratory infections require antibiotics is often difficult. The department of general practice at Maastricht University, Netherlands, has investigated if point-of-care tests can help in diagnosis.

A three-minute test is now available for measuring C-reactive protein (CRP) and requires only a drop of blood. The test was used to assess 258 patients with rhinosinusitis or lower respiratory tract infection. All patients were tested, but the results were given randomly to their GPs. The 33 GPs had the results to assist with diagnosis in 129 cases and relied on clinical assessment in the rest.

Antibiotics were prescribed for 43% of the CRP group and 57% of the control group. Some patients were prescribed antibiotics later, but their use was still significantly less in the CRP group 28 days after presentation.

A significant difference between the groups was the use of delayed prescriptions. Although the GPs wrote a delayed

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