COVID-19 Evidence Alerts
from McMaster PLUSTM

Current best evidence for clinical care (more info)

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Diagnosis Foschi C, Zignoli A, Gaibani P, et al. Respiratory bacterial co-infections in intensive care unit-hospitalized COVID-19 patients: Conventional culture vs BioFire FilmArray pneumonia Plus panel. J Microbiol Methods. 2021 Jul;186:106259. doi: 10.1016/j.mimet.2021.106259. Epub 2021 May 29.

The prevalence and microbiology of concomitant respiratory bacterial infections in patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection are not yet fully understood. In this retrospective study, we assessed respiratory bacterial co-infections in lower respiratory tract samples taken from intensive care unit-hospitalized COVID-19 patients, by comparing the conventional culture approach to an innovative molecular diagnostic technology. A total of 230 lower respiratory tract samples (i.e., bronchial aspirates or bronchoalveolar lavages) were taken from 178 critically ill COVID-19 patients. Each sample was processed by a semi-quantitative culture and by a multiplex PCR panel (FilmArray Pneumonia Plus panel), allowing rapid detection of a wide range of clinically relevant pathogens and a limited number of antimicrobial resistance markers. More than 30% of samples showed a positive bacterial culture, with Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus the most detected pathogens. FilmArray showed an overall sensitivity and specificity of 89.6% and 98.3%, respectively, with a negative predictive value of 99.7%. The molecular test significantly reduced the turn-around-time (TAT) and increased the rates of microbial detection. Most cases missed by culture were characterized by low bacterial loads (104-105 copies/mL). FilmArray missed a list of pathogens not included in the molecular panel, especially Stenotrophomonas maltophilia (8 cases). FilmArray can be useful to detect bacterial pathogens in lower respiratory tract specimens of COVID-19 patients, with a significant decrease of TAT. The test is particularly useful to rule out bacterial co-infections and avoid the inappropriate prescription of antibiotics.

Discipline / Specialty Area Score
Intensivist/Critical Care
Hospital Doctor/Hospitalists
Internal Medicine
Infectious Disease
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Comments from MORE raters

Respirology/Pulmonology rater

Despite the caveats of a retrospective study and highly selected ICU population in this work, the rapid turn-around-time and very good negative predictive value, the FilmArray PCR assay is a useful tool for antimicrobial stewardship. It does not compete with or replace standard cultures because it does not detect all pathogenic species and does not distinguish between viable and non-viable organisms. I would use it concurrently with cultures to help decide whether or not to start antibiotic therapy in the critical 48 hours of suspected infection and culture results.