Effectiveness of practices to increase timeliness of providing targeted therapy for inpatients with bloodstream infections: A laboratory medicine best practices systematic review and meta-analysis

Stephanie S. Buehler, Bereneice Madison, Susan R. Snyder, James H. Derzon, Nancy E. Cornish, Michael A. Saubolle, Alice S. Weissfeld, Melvin P. Weinstein, Edward B. Liebow, Donna M. Wolk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

187 Scopus citations


Background. Bloodstream infection (BSI) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality throughout the world. Rapid identification of bloodstream pathogens is a laboratory practice that supports strategies for rapid transition to direct targeted therapy by providing for timely and effective patient care. In fact, the more rapidly that appropriate antimicrobials are prescribed, the lower the mortality for patients with sepsis. Rapid identification methods may have multiple positive impacts on patient outcomes, including reductions in mortality, morbidity, hospital lengths of stay, and antibiotic use. In addition, the strategy can reduce the cost of care for patients with BSIs. Objectives. The purpose of this review is to evaluate the evidence for the effectiveness of three rapid diagnostic practices in decreasing the time to targeted therapy for hospitalized patients with BSIs. The review was performed by applying the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Laboratory Medicine Best Practices Initiative (LMBP) systematic review methods for quality improvement (QI) practices and translating the results into evidence-based guidance (R. H. Christenson et al., Clin Chem 57:816–825, 2011, http://dx.doi.org/10.1373/clinchem.2010.157131). Search strategy. A comprehensive literature search was conducted to identify studies with measurable outcomes. A search of three electronic bibliographic databases (PubMed, Embase, and CINAHL), databases containing “gray” literature (unpublished academic, government, or industry evidence not governed by commercial publishing) (CIHI, NIHR, SIGN, and other databases), and the Cochrane database for English-language articles published between 1990 and 2011 was conducted in July 2011. Dates of search. The dates of our search were from 1990 to July 2011. Selection criteria. Animal studies and non-English publications were excluded. The search contained the following medical subject headings: bacteremia; bloodstream infection; time factors; health care costs; length of stay; morbidity; mortality; antimicrobial therapy; rapid molecular techniques, polymerase chain reaction (PCR); in situ hybridization, fluorescence; treatment outcome; drug therapy; patient care team; pharmacy service, hospital; hospital information systems; Gram stain; pharmacy service; and spectrometry, mass, matrix-assisted laser desorption-ionization. Phenotypic as well as the following key words were searched: targeted therapy; rapid identification; rapid; Gram positive; Gram negative; reduce(ed); cost(s); pneumoslide; PBP2; tube coagulase; matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time of flight; MALDI TOF; blood culture; EMR; electronic reporting; call to provider; collaboration; pharmacy; laboratory; bacteria; yeast; ICU; and others. In addition to the electronic search being performed, a request for unpublished quality improvement data was made to the clinical laboratory community. Main results. Rapid molecular testing with direct communication significantly improves timeliness compared to standard testing. Rapid phenotypic techniques with direct communication likely improve the timeliness of targeted therapy. Studies show a significant and homogeneous reduction in mortality associated with rapid molecular testing combined with direct communication. Authors’ conclusions. No recommendation is made for or against the use of the three assessed practices of this review due to insufficient evidence. The overall strength of evidence is suggestive; the data suggest that each of these three practices has the potential to improve the time required to initiate targeted therapy and possibly improve other patient outcomes, such as mortality. The meta-analysis results suggest that the implementation of any of the three practices may be more effective at increasing timeliness to targeted therapy than routine microbiology techniques for identification of the microorganisms causing BSIs. Based on the included studies, results for all three practices appear applicable across multiple microorganisms, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), methicillin-sensitive S. aureus (MSSA), Candida species, and Enterococcus species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-103
Number of pages45
JournalClinical Microbiology Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 23 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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