The Diagnostic Gap

Antibiotic overuse in hospital and outpatient settings contributes significantly to the increasing prevalence of antibiotic resistance. At the heart of this problem is the challenge to accurately distinguish between bacterial infections (which warrant antibiotic therapy) and viral infections (for which antibiotic treatment is generally not required). Although current diagnostic tools for facilitating appropriate use of antibiotics are valuable in many clinical situations, they are often inadequate.
These limitations result in a diagnostic gap, which in turn often leads physicians to either over-prescribe (“just-in-case”) or under-prescribe (“watchful waiting”) antibiotics,1-3 both of which adversely impact patient care and health economics.

1. Little and Williamson, BMJ, 1994.
2. Spiro et al., JAMA, 2006.
3. Little P, BMJ, 2005.