Clinical Impact of Multiplex Molecular Diagnostic Testing in Children With Acute Gastroenteritis Presenting to an Emergency Department: A Multicenter Prospective Study.

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DOI: 10.1093/cid/ciad710


BACKGROUND: Multiplex molecular diagnostic panels have greatly enhanced detection of gastrointestinal pathogens. However, data on the impact of these tests on clinical and patient-centered outcomes are limited.

METHODS: We conducted a prospective, multicenter, stepped-wedge trial to determine the impact of multiplex molecular testing at 5 academic children's hospitals on children presenting to the emergency department with acute gastroenteritis. Caregivers were interviewed on enrollment and 7-10 days after enrollment to determine symptoms, risk factors, subsequent medical visits, and impact on family members. During the pre-intervention period, diagnostic testing was performed at the clinician's discretion . During the intervention period, multiplex molecular testing was performed on all children, with results available to clinicians. The primary outcome was return visits to a healthcare provider within 10 days of enrollment.

RESULTS: Potential pathogens were identified by clinician-ordered tests in 19 of 571 (3.3%) in the pre-intervention period compared with 434 of 586 (74%) in the intervention period; clinically relevant pathogens were detected in 2.1% and 15%, respectively. In the multivariate model, the intervention was associated with a 21% reduction in the odds of any return visit (odds ratio, 0.79; 95% confidence interval, .70-.90) after adjusting for potential confounders. Appropriate treatment was prescribed in 11.3% compared with 19.6% during the intervention period (P = .22).

CONCLUSIONS: Routine molecular multiplex testing for all children who presented to the ED with acute gastroenteritis detected more clinically relevant pathogens and led to a 21% decrease in return visits. Additional research is needed to define patients most likely to benefit from testing. Clinical Trials Registration. NCT02248285.

Journal Title

Clinical infectious diseases : an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America





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MeSH Keywords

Child; Humans; Prospective Studies; Gastroenteritis; Risk Factors; Emergency Service, Hospital; Molecular Diagnostic Techniques


diagnosis; diarrhea; multiplex polymerase chain reaction; outcomes; pediatric gastroenteritis

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