Reduction in total patient isolation days with a change in influenza testing methodology


      Both hospital admissions and patient isolation increase during influenza season. Influenza testing methodologies that reduce turnaround time (TAT) could reduce time in isolation.


      We assessed the impact of a new influenza test on TAT and isolation days. TAT and daily mean isolation days were compared at a single hospital over 2 influenza seasons. An automated real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction assay (rRT-PCR) with random access replaced a conventional rRT-PCR assay for the second influenza season. Automation and random access allowed continuous testing, rather than once daily testing 3-5 d/wk.


      Confirmed influenza cases (57 vs 68) and total patient days (66,308 vs. 66,366) were similar for the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 influenza seasons. TAT fell from 35 to 3.6 hours. Daily mean isolation days (32.9 vs 27.7, P < .01) fell, as did days in contact precautions (25.0 vs 19.8, P < .01) and droplet precautions (6.0 vs 3.5, P < .01). Although daily mean droplet precaution days for confirmed influenza rose slightly (0.86 vs 1.1, P = .16), droplet precaution days for suspected influenza fell 85% (2.7 vs 0.41, P < .001).


      Influenza testing technology that reduced TAT from days to hours resulted in a 42% reduction in droplet precaution days and reduced overall isolation days during influenza season.

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