One of the clinical paradoxes facing doctors is determining when to use antibiotics to treat bacterial infections. The difficulty arises because some viral infections are indistinguishable from bacterial ones. When a doctor chooses to prescribe an antibiotic out of sheer caution, it could result in the creation of antibiotic resistant superbugs. The failure to use them could put patients at risk of infections, which could result in hospitalizations and increased healthcare costs.
Despite these difficulties, there are innovations coming that could help doctors in making informed decisions about how to treat patients. According to a medicalnewstoday.com report, a company has announced the results of clinical testing of a diagnostic blood test that would enable doctors to tell the difference between a bacterial and a viral infection.
The test deviates from common pathogen detection by relying on the body’s immune response to determine the cause of the infection. Essentially, there are three distinctive proteins are activated by viruses and bacteria. The test incorporates an algorithm that when integrated, can create a unique signature that helps doctors understand what the accurate cause would be.
It remains to be seen when the test will be used in hospitals, but it exemplifies the need for doctors to use reasonable care when diagnosing and treating patients. A doctor must act in the same manner that a doctor with similar expertise would act in similar situations. If he or she does not follow established protocols and a patient is injured, the doctor could be held liable for a patient’s injuries.