Rubach MP, Hanson KE. ID Learning Unit-Diagnostics Update: Current Laboratory Methods for Rapid Pathogen Identification in Patients With Bloodstream Infections. Open forum infectious diseases. 2015 Dec;2(2). ofv174. PMID: 26719845 [PubMed] PMCID: PMC4690501
Diagnostic assays that rapidly identify bloodstream pathogens have the potential to improve patient outcomes and antibiotic stewardship efforts. Current tests are based on the detection of nucleic acids that are specific to a targeted pathogen or based on organism identification using mass spectrometry. Most rapid assays require a positive blood culture as their sample input and expedite pathogen identification by 24-72 hours. For those assays that also report detection of drug resistance markers, information on antimicrobial resistance is expedited by 48-96 hours. This learning unit reviews the basic principles of rapid microorganism identification assays for bloodstream infections with the aim of assisting clinicians in the interpretation and optimal utilization of test results.