Meningitis and encephalitis are potentially life-threatening infections of the central nervous system. When patients come to a community hospital and have a suspected case of meningitis or encephalitis, they are, after a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) sample has been taken, administered empirical treatment—an antibiotic, antiviral or antifungal cocktail.
In community hospitals, microbiology labs have limited resources, and microbial culture is often the only diagnostic option available for CSF analysis. However, a culture-independent method is the preferred way to identify a viral infectious agent and to confirm the pathogen-specific diagnosis in a more timely manner. If a viral pathogen is suspected, a CSF analysis must be conducted by an external lab, which inevitably results in delays, clogging an already overloaded system.
In response, bioMérieux’s FilmArray® is a diagnostic system that uses a nucleic acid assay called “nested multiplex PCR” that can be easily performed with minimal hands-on time in the laboratory. In one hour, it tests for the presence of 14 different potentially pathogenic microorganisms, including the infectious agents most frequently and most importantly responsible for community-acquired meningitis and encephalitis.
The Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre is a community hospital in Barrie, Ontario. To assess the potential effects of implementing FilmArray® technology in its facility, the Royal Victoria team conducted an independent study funded by bioMérieux and led by Dr. Giulio DiDiodato and his colleagues. The study demonstrated that the quick and easy-to-use FilmArray® system reduces the time to diagnose the etiology of the meningitis/encephalitis syndrome, and, in turn, shortens the length of stay by an average of 36 hours per patient, saving money and reducing strain on human resources. FilmArray could also be a vital tool for teams monitoring and improving antibiotic usage in the hospital setting.
Overall, the FilmArray® system improves care for patients with infections such as meningitis and encephalitis in community hospitals like the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre.
Watch this video to learn more about the study and how the in-house use of a multiplex test can benefit hospitals.