Rapid flu testing is easing winter woes

Winter has arrived across Victoria, and with it comes the influenza season. For patients finding themselves suffering flu like symptoms, it’s essential that they get diagnosed, not only for their own benefit but for the benefit of the community.

‘A couple of years ago, we had a particularly bad flu season here in Victoria, during which we found that we just weren’t able to maintain the service that was required by the hospital,” says Darren Jardine, Manager of Microbiology.’

Darren Jardine, Manager of Microbiology
Darren Jardine, Manager of Microbiology

Now, thanks to funding from the Department of Health and Human Services, St Vincent’s has installed a game changing rapid flu analyser that is making a vast difference in handling the influx of patients that come during the flu season.

‘Our new rapid flu analyser is a molecular diagnostic tool that we use here at St Vincent’s for diagnosis of infectious diseases,’ says Darren Jardine, Manager of Microbiology. ‘We can rapidly know whether patients do or don’t have influenza.’

This new technology has helped decrease the pressure put on the Emergency Department. Prior to the installation of this new technology, testing took too long – anywhere from 7-8 hours before a diagnosis. Now, rapid flu testing can be done in under an hour.

‘Each flu season can be quite unpredictable,’ says Dr Jonty Karro, Deputy Director of the Emergency Department. ‘We need to be prepared to make sure that we’re able to rapidly evaluate patients.’

‘Prior to the installation of the rapid flu analyser we were only able to respond to about 30 cases per day. We’re now able to perform up to 100 tests each day.’