BACKGROUND: Because sepsis has a high mortality rate, rapid microbiological diagnosis is required to enable efficient therapy. The effectiveness of MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) analysis in reducing turnaround times (TATs) for blood culture (BC) pathogen identification when available in a 24-h hospital setting has not been determined.
METHODS: On the basis of data from a total number of 912 positive BCs collected within 140 consecutive days and work flow analyses of laboratory diagnostics, we evaluated different models to assess the TATs for batch-wise and for immediate response (real-time) MALDI-TOF MS pathogen identification of positive BC results during the night shifts. The results were compared to TATs from routine BC processing and biochemical identification performed during regular working hours.
RESULTS: Continuous BC incubation together with batch-wise MALDI-TOF MS analysis enabled significant reductions of up to 58.7 h in the mean TATs for the reporting of the bacterial species. The TAT of batch-wise MALDI-TOF MS analysis was inferior by a mean of 4.9 h when compared to the model of the immediate work flow under ideal conditions with no constraints in staff availability.
CONCLUSIONS: Together with continuous cultivation of BC, the 24-h availability of MALDI-TOF MS can reduce the TAT for microbial pathogen identification within a routine clinical laboratory setting. Batch-wise testing of positive BC loses a few hours compared to real-time identification but is still far superior to classical BC processing. Larger prospective studies are required to evaluate the contribution of rapid around-the-clock pathogen identification to medical decision-making for septicemic patients.
- Received for publication November 2, 2012.
- Accepted for publication July 8, 2013.
- © 2013 The American Association for Clinical Chemistry