Benefits of Rapid Sepsis Diagnostics for Clinicians and Patients


The diagnosis and treatment of bloodstream infections remains a significant issue within the hospital environment. There are approximately 100,000 cases of sepsis recorded annually in the UK. These result in 37,000 deaths and a cost to the NHS in the region of £2.5 billion. It is in this context that the management of sepsis formed the subject of a report by the Parliamentary and Healthcare ombudsman in which the importance of rapid diagnosis and treatment was emphasised.

Effect of delay to therapeutic intervention on patient survival in cases of septic shock


Effect of rapid notification of pathogen ID on patient mortality rates

Data from the published literature verifies these conclusions, demonstrating that the risk of death from septic shock increases by the hour unless therapeutic intervention occurs (Kumar et al. Chest. 2009 Nov;136(5):1237-48).

However, the decision as to which antimicrobial agent to prescribe requires the identity of the pathogen species to be ascertained. Traditional methods of pathogen identification from positive blood cultures can take several days, meaning that antibiotic therapy decisions must be based on clinical symptoms or gram stain results only, rather than on a positive identification of a causative organism. This can result in inappropriate therapies being used, or treatment proceeding using broad spectrum antibiotics until definitive species identification can be obtained.

The QuickFISH system overcomes these issues by enabling a positive species identification to be obtained from a positive blood culture in just 20 minutes. This allows the pathogen identity to be reported to the clinician at the same time as the gram stain results. Providing this information permits appropriate antimicrobial therapy to commence promptly, potentially resulting in enhanced patient outcomes. In addition the ability to identify possible misleading contaminants, such as coagulase negative Staphylococci (CNS), allows treatment to be promptly de-escalated where necessary, with attendant resource savings.

Effect of rapid notification of pathogen ID on patient length of stay
Effect of rapid notification of pathogen ID on patient length of stay

  • Optimise patient care
  • Reduce mortality rates
  • Shorten length of hospital stay
  • Lower health care costs


Evidence from the literature shows the extent of the benefits that are possible. A study by Ly et al (2008) demonstrated the effect of rapid notification of pathogen identification made possible by PNA technology, when applied to patients with blood cultures positive for gram positive cocci in clusters.

The rapid identification of such Staphylococci to species level, increased survival rates for those with S.aureus, and decreased length of hospital stay for those patients with CNS. In this way patient outcomes were improved, in combination with better use of hospital resources.

Key Benefits at a Glance

Optimised Patient Care Through Better Antibiotic Decisions

  • Earlier escalation vs. de-escalation vs. discontinuation


Improved Patient Outcomes and Lower Mortality Rates

  • Higher survival rates, fewer complications (e.g drug toxicity, decreased C. difficile infections)


Better use of Healthcare Resources and Lower Costs

  • Further optimise antibiotic use
  • Shorter length of stay for patients
  • Financial cost savings/avoidance


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1. UK Sepsis Trust: Sepsis Management In Scotland report, NHS Scotland (2010)

2. Daniels R. The incidence, mortality and economic burden of sepsis. (2009) In: NHS Evidence emergency and urgent care.

3. Kumar et al. Chest. 2009 Nov;136(5):1237-48

4. Ly et al. Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2008 Jun; 4(3):637-40



About Sepsis Diagnostics

Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening condition caused by the presence of micro-organisms such as bacteria (bacteraemia) and fungi (fungaemia) in the bloodstream. Disease progression can be rapid so effective clinical intervention in these cases requires prompt diagnosis and identification of the responsible pathogen.

The QuickFISH system offers unprecedentedly fast (20 minute) species identification of pathogens directly from positive blood cultures, allowing the reporting of pathogen identification at the same time as the reporting of Gram stain results. Implementation of QuickFISH for sepsis diagnostics can deliver

  • Improved patient outcomes
  • Decreased financial outlay
  • Optimised antibiotic use
  • Decreased patient length of stay