Avera Sacred Heart Hospital offers new technology to test for C. difficile bacteria

Avera Sacred Heart Hospital is now offering a new advanced laboratory testing system designed to provide quick results in identifying the presence of Clostridium Difficile (C. diff) toxins as of Nov. 30. Most laboratories perform a rapid C. diff A and B toxin assay with poor sensitivity.  This sometimes caused the doctor to order more than one test to determine the presence of C. diff which could take more than 24 hours to diagnosis the condition.

"We now have the capabilities with this new technology, known as a PCR test, to have very accurate results in approximately two hours. The PCR test also increases the accuracy and quality of results," says Warren Erickson, director of laboratory at Avera Sacred Heart Hospital. "Physicians will be able to diagnose and treat patients with C. diff more efficiently with this new technology." Erickson says.

C. diff is a serious bacteria that can cause symptoms ranging from diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the colon. Recently, C. diff infections have become more frequent and more severe. Treatment of these infections is becoming more complex and expensive. In addition to earlier results, this new C. diff testing technology could also help decrease the length of stay and additional costs attributed to C. diff.

Testing for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) using the same PCR test technology will be available in early 2010.

Avera Sacred Heart Hospital is the only hospital in the region to offer the PCR test technology. For more information or questions regarding this new technology or C. diff testing, contact Warren Erikson, Avera Sacred Heart Hospital Laboratory director, at (605) 668-8169.

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