Clinical Impact of a Diagnostic Gastrointestinal Panel in Children.

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Many hospitals have transitioned from conventional stool diagnostics to rapid multiplex polymerase chain reaction gastrointestinal panels (GIP). The clinical impact of this testing has not been evaluated in children. In this study, we compare use, results, and patient outcomes between conventional diagnostics and GIP testing.This is a multicenter cross-sectional study of children who underwent stool testing from 2013 to 2017. We used bivariate analyses to compare test use, results, and patient outcomes, including length of stay (LOS), ancillary testing, and hospital charges, between the GIP era (24 months after GIP introduction) and conventional diagnostic era (historic control, 24 months before).There were 12 222 tests performed in 8720 encounters. In the GIP era, there was a 21% increase in the proportion of children who underwent stool testing, with a statistically higher percentage of positive results (40% vs 11%), decreased time to result (4 vs 31 hours), and decreased time to treatment (11 vs 35 hours). Although there was a decrease in LOS by 2 days among those who received treatment of a bacterial and/or parasitic pathogen (5.1 vs 3.1; P < .001), this represented only 3% of tested children. In the overall population, there was no statistical difference in LOS, ancillary testing, or charges.The GIP led to increased pathogen detection and faster results. This translated into improved outcomes for only a small subset of patients, suggesting that unrestricted GIP use leads to low-value care. Similar to other novel rapid diagnostic panels, there is a critical need for diagnostic stewardship to optimize GIP testing.

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Authors: Jillian M Cotter, Jacob Thomas, Meghan Birkholz, Lilliam Ambroggio, Jacqueline Holstein, Samuel R Dominguez