New technology will help GPs diagnose respiratory tract infections, Hiqa says

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Hiqa says a new technology that has been developed would aid GPs in diagnosing respiratory tract infections.

It is asking the Government to help facilitate a pilot scheme for the new device, which could significantly cut the number of prescriptions issued.

The new device would take a tiny sample of blood and could help determine if a patient has a bacterial infection.

As a result, it would mean prescriptions for antibiotics could be cut in half.

Chief Scientist at Hiqa Conor Teljuer says it would be a device that GPs would have in the practices:

"The test we are looking at measures the level of C-reactive protein in someone's blood. The level can be indicative if someone has a bacterial infection.

"It's a simple finger prick blood test that a GP can do in the practice when someone comes in," he said.

"We are looking at it specifically in respiratory tract infections."

Every year in Ireland, 2.4 million prescriptions for antibiotics to treat respiratory tract infections are issued.

Explained Conor Teljuer: "In about two-thirds of cases, the GP knows fairly quickly whether it is a viral or bacterial infection. The issue is with the third that they don't know - this gives them extra information that they can use to make their decision."

Hiqa is calling on the Health Minister Simon Harris to help set up a managed and monitored pilot scheme for the new device.

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