Benefits of Rapid Sepsis Diagnostics for Pharmacists


The optimal use of antibiotics constitutes one of the cornerstones of effective antimicrobial stewardship and thus antimicrobial therapeutic intervention. It is for this reason that the pharmacist plays a key role in ensuring that pharmaceutical resources are used as optimally as possible to facilitate effective patient outcomes, within the constraints imposed by budgetary restrictions.

However, the task of the pharmacist is being made more challenging by the spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which is compounded by the dwindling supply of new antibiotics. It is in the face of these more limited treatment options that pharmacists must ensure early, appropriate and effective antibiotic therapy for patients with critical infections, while avoiding overexposure to and unnecessary use of broad-spectrum antibiotics, in the face of evolving organism sensitivity profiles and lack of new antibiotics.

New Antibiotic Approvals Since 1980*
New Antibiotic Approvals Since 1980*


A growing awareness of these problems prompted the UK government to make the following recommendations in their recently published Five Year Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy.

“4.5 Indiscriminate or inappropriate use of antibiotics is a key driver in the spread of AMR. There is already an extensive range of guidance, education, tools and industry-sponsored initiatives to promote the responsible use of antibiotics in patients and animals, but most prescribing is carried out in the absence of adequate information about the nature of the infection or before the results of diagnostic testing are available.

4.6 Conserving the use of currently available antimicrobials is a vital part of antimicrobial stewardship. Whilst timely and appropriate treatment of probable bacterial infection is essential, we equally need to ensure use of the right drug, right dose at the right time and for the right duration to limit unnecessary antibiotic exposure.”


However, if the above criteria are to be met, a critical problem that needs to be resolved is that accurate species identification can take an additional 24-48 hours once a blood culture has flagged positive. In many cases a prescription will need to made based on a gram stain which can indicate the general direction of therapeutic intervention (as described in 4.5 above), pending a specific, positive species ID. However, this may still result in either the use of an inappropriate drug, or the undesirable use of a broad-spectrum antibiotic.

The QuickFISH system avoids these problems by allowing species ID to be reported at the same time as the gram stain result. This permits a species specific antimicrobial therapeutic strategy to be chosen, especially when dealing with microorganisms that share an identical morphology when viewed under gram stain. Examples of organisms with differing sensitivities that QuickFISH can distinguish include -:

  • Staphylococcus aureus vs Coagulase negative Staphylococci
  • Enterococcus faecium vs E. faecalis
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa vs Escherichia coli & Klebsiella pneumoniae
  • Candida glabrata vs C.albicans and C.parapsilosis


Key Benefits for Pharmacists

  • Reduced time to optimised antibiotic therapy
  • Enhanced Pharmacovigilance: avoid unnecessary antibiotic exposure
  • Decreased antibiotic costs
  • Help manage the spread of antimicrobial resistance


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*DATA SOURCE: Bassetti, M et al. Ann Clin Microbiol Antimicrob. 2013 Aug 28;12(1):22. doi:10.1186/1476-0711-12-22



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