Ruimy R, Dos-Santos M, Raskine L, Bert F, Masson R, Elbaz S, Bonnal C, Lucet JC, Lefort A, Fantin B, Wolff M, Hornstein M, Andremont A
Bacterial identification and antibiotic susceptibility testing currently require 48 h when a first blood culture (BC) is positive for clustered gram-positive cocci on direct smear examination (DSE). Meanwhile, antibiotic treatment is often inadequate, reducing the chances of effective treatment or creating unnecessary selective pressure. A new real-time PCR (RT-PCR) technique that differentiates Staphylococcus aureus from coagulase-negative staphylococci (CoNS) and detects methicillin resistance in 90 min in BC bottles could help solve these problems. BC bottles from 410 patients with gram-positive cocci on DSE were processed by current methods, and patients' treatments were prospectively recorded. The RT-PCR assay was performed on aliquots of these BCs, which had been kept frozen. For the 121 patients who had true bacteremia, we established whether the faster availability of RT-PCR results could have led to the initiation of treatments different from those actually given. RT-PCR sensitivity and specificity were 100% for differentiating between S. aureus and CoNS and detecting methicillin resistance with two manufacturers' BC bottles. For 31/86 (36%) of the S. aureus-infected patients and for 8/35 (23%) of the CoNS-infected patients who either had suboptimal or nonoptimal treatment or were untreated 48 h after positivity was detected, the early availability of RT-PCR results could have allowed more effective treatment. Unnecessary glycopeptide treatments could have been avoided for 28 additional patients. The use of RT-PCR would increase treatment effectiveness in patients with staphylococcal bacteremia and reduce the selective pressure created by glycopeptides.