AN innovative, rapid test for meningitis which produces accurate results within two hours has been introduced at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch.
Meningitis is a life-threatening infection of the membranes surrounding the brain which can develop quickly and can kill within hours.
Until now, the tests used to identify this infection took up to two days to get a result.
This week is Meningitis Awareness Week, and is marked by the transformation of diagnosis of the infection in the county’s acute hospitals, with the use of a new piece of equipment which rapidly analyses samples.
The new technology allows the laboratory at Worcestershire Royal Hospital to inform doctors of a positive result much faster, leading to targeted treatment and reassurance for patients and their families.
The rapid test also means negative results are identified much quicker, reducing inappropriate treatments and unnecessary hospital stays. The test works by analysing a patient’s spinal fluid for up to 14 different bacteria and viruses.
Consultant microbiologist, Dr Mary Ashcroft said: “Meningitis can develop very quickly and can kill within hours. Whilst treating immediately because of suspicion of meningitis is the most important aspect of managing suspected cases, having early, accurate diagnosis that allows prompt and targeted treatment is essential for improving outcomes for patients. This new test has transformed the way we diagnose these dangerous infections.”
Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust was one of the first hospital Trusts in the country to extensively trial this new technology.
Anyone can get meningitis although some forms are more common in different age groups. Some bacterial causes of meningitis can be associated with outbreaks and although outbreaks are relatively rare in the UK, when they do occur they can develop very quickly and contact between people can spread the infection more widely.
In this instance quick treatment is vital in reducing the risk and helping prevent the spread of infection.