Clinical impact of rapid point-of-care PCR influenza testing in an urgent care setting: A single-center study

Robert C. Benirschke, Erin McElvania, Richard B. Thomson, Karen L. Kaul, Sanchita Das

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Seasonal influenza virus causes significant morbidity and mortality each year. Point-of-care (POC) testing using rapid influenza diagnostic tests (RIDTs), immu-noassays that detect viral antigens, are often used for diagnosis by physician offices and urgent care centers. These tests are rapid but lack sensitivity, which is estimated to be 50 to 70%. Testing by PCR is highly sensitive and specific, but historically these assays have been performed in centralized clinical laboratories necessitating specimen transport and increasing the time to result. Recently, Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)-waived, POC PCR influenza assays have been developed with 95% sensitivity and specificity compared to centralized PCR assays. To determine the clinical impact of a POC PCR test for influenza, we compared antimicrobial prescribing patterns of one urgent care location using the Cobas LIAT Influenza A/B assay (LIAT assay; Roche Diagnostics, Indianapolis, IN) to other urgent care centers in our health system using traditional RIDT, with negative specimens being reflexed to PCR. Antiviral prescribing was lower in patients with a negative LIAT PCR result (2.3%) than in patients with a negative RIDT result (25.3%; P 0.005). Antivirals were prescribed more often in patients that tested positive by LIAT PCR (82.4%) than in those testing positive by either RIDT or reflex PCR (69.9%; P 0.05). Antibacterial prescriptions for patients testing negative by LIAT PCR were higher (44.5%) than for those testing negative by RIDT (37.7%), although the difference was not statistically significant. In conclusion, having results from a PCR POC test during the clinic visit improved antiviral prescribing practices compared to having rapid results from an RIDT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere01281-18
JournalJournal of clinical microbiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Clinical impact
  • Influenza
  • PCR
  • Point-of-care testing
  • Rapid diagnosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)


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