Other cities of Augusta’s size have the same number of hospitals we do, but the quality and prestige of our health care is hard to beat.
We saw a shining example of that recently.
University Hospital recently became the first in the United States to use a testing system that not only detects an infection’s cause in hours instead of days, but also identifies the exact antibiotic that can fight it.
That’s huge. More than 2 million people are stricken by bacterial infections each year, and 23,000 of those people die from them. The longer antibiotics are delayed, the higher the death risk becomes. So because current lab systems typically take a day or two to detect bloodstream infections, guessing-game preemptive antibiotic treatments are often used – and overused.
Overuse, and indiscreet use, of antibiotics is a huge and frightening problem that officials say is increasing bacterial resistance to our most widely used antibiotics — making infections more difficult to fight.
Now, University Hospital has the Accelerate PhenoTest BC Kit system. With it, the hospital can identify bacteria in a positive blood culture in less than two hours.
That marks an incredible leap forward, says Dr. Kevin Nash, medical director of University’s hospitalist program, because “that reduces cost, reduces complications from the therapy — complications because you may not have had the right therapy.”
Other hospitals have been experimenting with PhenoTest, but University’s shrewd preplanning positioned the hospital well to be the first to clinically adopt the system.
A representative of the company that makes the testing system promised to bring it in at no cost to prove it worked. The hospital’s lab utilization committee spotted the tremendous value in such a testing system, and OK’d five months of validation studies for PhenoTest.
So when the Food and Drug Administration finally allowed marketing of the PhenoTest on Feb. 23, the system already was an approved purchase by University’s administration. The hospital had PhenoTest up and running for use on patients within a week.
Many hospitals were offered the opportunity to go forward with PhenoTest. But it was University that already had budgets approved and protocols ready to act quickly on officially using it.
That speaks volumes about the high quality of leadership at University Hospital and in Augusta’s medical community, and residents should feel proud of that.
It’s no fun to get sick anywhere. But because of our high level of care here, it’s an ideal place to get well.