Technology which can be used to detect different types of bacteria and fungi is being used by East Kent Hospitals.
The use of the ground-breaking equipment means that some organisms capable of causing infection and illness can now be identified within a day – and the right course of treatment introduced.
East Kent Hospitals’ consultant microbiologist, Dr Matthew Strutt, said: “In the recent past, it could sometimes take three days to conduct a routine test to diagnose certain types of bacteria and fungi. But in the fight against infection, we have to identify an organism much quicker than that.
“In a world of virulent fungi and antibiotic-resistant bacteria, we have to identify bugs in the shortest window of time possible. We can then give the patient the right treatment at the right time – and increase the likelihood of a better outcome.”
Dr Strutt added: “A quicker response means that we also limit the opportunities for the microbes to spread – and that’s essential in a hospital environment.”
The new equipment enables the team to identify bacteria and fungi directly from cultures – and in some cases the sampled can be identified within minutes rather than days.
Turn-around times have been markedly improved and this has a strong impact on how the Trust is managing bacterial infection. This allows clinicians to start using – or stop using – the right antibiotics much earlier.
Dr Strutt explained: “Many patients prefer to be out of hospital as quick as possible, and be home in a familiar environment. By investing in new technology, we’re making our hospitals safer and making life so much better for our patients.”
And thanks to the new way of working, it has also enabled the Trust to save precious NHS resources of more than £75,000 a year.
On top of that, and in recognition of its expert work on pathogenic fungi, East Kent Hospitals Microbiology Laboratory has also been awarded ‘specialist status because of its work on identifying fungi – one of only five Trusts in the country.
“I’m very proud of the work that we’re doing at East Kent Hospitals,” said Dr Strutt, “because it’s bringing immediate benefits to patient and saving the NHS money.”