St. Peter’s Invests in New Diagnostic Laboratory Panels to Improve Quality of Care for Sepsis Patients

February 4, 2020

The St. Peter’s Health Laboratory announced today that it has implemented the FDA approved ePlex® Blood Culture Identification panels to provide more rapid and accurate diagnosis of blood stream infections. Blood stream infections are relatively common and can be serious and deadly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in three people who die in a hospital have sepsis, a serious complication which can be caused by a blood stream infection.

Blood stream infections can occur when a virus or bacteria enters the body, and can be caused by infections such as pneumonia, urinary tract infection or even a skin wound like a scrape or a scratch. St. Peter’s Health is currently the only health system in Montana to invest in the advanced technology to improve the quality of care for patients and save lives. “The ePlex® significantly reduces the turn-around time for blood culture identification for a large number of infections,” said St. Peter’s Health Laboratory Services Operation Manager Matt Aakre, CLSP(MB) CM. “We now have the ability to positively identify the organism in under three hours. Previously, this process required 24-48 hours.”

Time is critical when identifying how to treat blood stream infections according to St. Peter’s Health Pharmacy Clinical Manager Tom Richardson, PharmD, BCIDP. “The sooner we can identify the organism causing the infection, the sooner we can get the patient the most targeted, appropriate antibiotic,” noted Richardson. “It is almost like fixing a car. It is important to be able to identify the root cause of the issue, so you are not spending time or effort treating the wrong thing or using sub-optimal parts.” Data shows that if the wrong antibiotics are selected to treat blood stream infections mortality rates increase and hospital stays can be longer. It can also increase costs for the hospital and patient.

The ePlex® technology has very real implications for the health outcomes of seriously ill, local patients. The mortality rate related to blood stream infections in the United States exceeds deaths from prostate cancer, breast cancer and AIDS combined. Dr. Anne Anglim is an infectious disease specialist at St. Peter’s Health Regional Medical Center where she provides care to hospitalized patients. “Blood stream infections can be caused by many different bacteria. If I know the source of the infection, I can much more properly develop a comprehensive treatment plan and help the patient regain their health.”

There are also bigger picture benefits associated with providing quick, targeted treatment. “Antibiotic resistance is very real, especially when it comes to these types of infections and the antibiotics we use to fight them,” said Richardson. “By knowing sooner what we are fighting, we can give patients the most effective, narrow antibiotic treatment. Anytime that we don’t have to use more antibiotics to treat an infection than what is necessary, we are doing our part to combat the rise of superbugs in our community and across our country.”