DOCTORS have developed a speedy test which can find the cause for diarrhoea within an hour.
A portable device is used at the patient’s bedside to analyse stool samples and give a result.
The test is said to be as accurate as a standard one — conducted in a lab — for which the wait can be several days.
Researchers at University Hospital Southampton reckon the new method will remove early guesswork around the patient’s need for antibiotics or to be isolated.
Dr Tristan Clark, a consultant in infectious diseases, said: “When a patient presents with diarrhoea the onus is on healthcare professionals to quickly determine its cause so patients with infections can be isolated to prevent them from infecting others.
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“As the standard lab test can take up to several days, that means all patients with diarrhoea are required to be placed in a side room in case they have an infection and doctors also have to guess as to whether to treat with antibiotics or not.
“Neither of these processes are adequate because isolation rooms are in high demand – particularly in winter – and overuse or misuse of antibiotics is fuelling resistance.
“This test may offer an answer to these issues by providing a result in real-time.”
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