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Point-of-care C reactive protein to identify serious infection in acutely ill children presenting to hospital: prospective cohort study
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  • Published on:
    Authors' reply:
    • Jan Y Verbakel, General Practitioner, Assistant Professor Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford & Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Leuven

    I would like to thank Professor Mitch Blair for his valuable input and bringing up the issue of considering symptoms onset when interpreting point-of-care test results in acute care settings. Recognizing serious infection in children can be challenging, especially at disease onset when the severity of the infection is unclear. Although the choice of biomarker is pivotal in the risk assessment of acutely ill children guided by the point-of-care test result, we had very good rationale to choose C-reactive protein (CRP) as our preferred test.

    Previous research:
    CRP and procalcitonin were identified as the best inflammatory markers for serious infections in children to date in a systematic review, which only identified studies from hospital settings.[1] A CRP <20mg/L and procalcitonin <0.5ng/mL significantly reduce the risk of missing a serious infection in children. Our recent study on point-of-care (POC) CRP in primary care found an even lower threshold of 5mg/L to rule out serious infection in those children, probably due to the early presentation in primary care, when the inflammatory response is still developing, which indeed confirms the importance of setting.[2]
    However, as shown in Figure 6 of the paper by Van den Bruel et al., C-reactive protein and procalcitonin had comparable diagnostic accuracy in the systematic review, as the shape of the curves was roughly similar and the confidence intervals were largely overlapping.[1]

    Practical...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.
  • Published on:
    CRP first? : Less is better for education
    • Osamu Nomura, Pediatric Emergency Physician Tokyo Metropolitan Children's Medical Center, Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine

    With great interest, I read a recent study by Verakel et al (1). illustrating the utility of a newly developed algorithm for excluding serious infections (SI) in acutely ill children. Their algorithm stratifies patients into three risk groups based on the values of point-of-care C reactive protein (POC CRP) and is meant to assist the decision making of physicians, especially trainees. This method demonstrated excellent diagnostic performance and enabled physicians to rule out 36% of SI in children visiting outpatient clinics and emergency departments. However, their proposed method does raise some concerns about potential negative consequences in the educational context.
    The algorithm requires physicians to perform the POC CRP test for all patients regardless of their pre-test probability of SIs. In addition, their model may lead young physicians to draw conclusions about the patients’ clinical features only after estimating the risk of SI based on the POC CRP value and may cause them to neglect the importance of history taking and physical examinations.
    As the authors state, the POC CRP is an innovative tool in pediatric acute care; a POC sample can be obtained by a simple finger prick and the test results can be obtained within several minutes. Nevertheless, in pediatric practice sometimes “doing nothing” is better than “doing something”. This may well be one of the most important principles in pediatrics (2-4). Our role as senior physicians is to show traine...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.
  • Published on:
    Testing in relation to timing of illness needs to be considered
    • Mitch Blair, Professor of Paediatrics and Child Public Health Imperial College London

    The authors have added an interesting opportunity to refine our clinical decision making with the addition of a point of care test (POC) . However I would argue that choice of POC test might be a critical factor here and very much dependent on initial onset of symptoms. Some years ago published data on the then relatively new POC test for Procalcitonin (PCT-Q) indicated that children presenting within 24 h, PCT performed significantly better (AUC 0.96, SE 0.05) than CRP (0.74, 0.12).(1) This could well explain the differences the authors found in the primary care arm of their study. Setting for these tests becomes increasingly important as we see a shift of more children being seen in GP run Urgent Care Centres with a possibly a different spectrum of illness severity.(2) Prospective studies in different settings comparing both of these biomarkers as POCs would be worth further cosideration.

    References
    1 K. Brent, S .M. Hughes, S .Kumar, A. Gupta, A. Trewick,
    S. Rainbow, R. Wall and M. Blair
    Is procalcitonin a discriminant marker of early
    invasive bacterial infection in children?
    Current Paediatrics (2003) 13, 399

    2 . Gritz A, Sen A, Hiles S, Mackenzie G, Blair M. G241(P) More under-fives now seen in urgent care centre than A&amp;E- should we shift our focus? Arch Dis Child [Internet]. 2016 Apr 27 [cited 2016 Aug 3];101(Suppl 1):A132.1-A132. Available from:...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.