Most often, patients with infectious illnesses have signs and symptoms that are indicative of a disease, but are not specific enough to clinically distinguish what makes them sick.
These sets of common signs and symptoms are called ‘syndromes’, from the Greek word for concurrence. Patients present with vomiting and abdominal pain, or with cough, myalgia and headache, and may have fever accompanied by low blood pressure. They will be diagnosed clinically with infective gastroenteritis or an acute respiratory infection respectively, both syndromes that have wide and diverse infectious causes, which may be viral, bacterial or fungal.
Diagnostic laboratories can make use of a variety of methodologies and technologies to detect and recover the causative organism of an infection. Despite extensive testing however, a specific pathogen is often not identified. This can have several reasons, such as lacking the appropriate tests, e.g. not sensitive enough or having a restrictive pathogen menu; also the clinician can just have ordered to test the ´wrong’ pathogen(s), (mis)guided by a less typical clinical presentation, patient profile, or seasonality.
When a causative pathogen is eventually identified, too much time has often gone by to make impactful clinical decisions. Can a patient presenting at the ER go home or is a hospitalization required? Is an antibiotic or other treatment necessary? Do you isolate the patient to protect others? Is a hospital outbreak a concern?
In the absence of etiologic information, the patient is often given a very broad treatment with all consequences entailed. Using Fast Syndromic Testing helps eliminate the guess work and facilitate clinical decision making.