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Common Test-Ordering Errors
Part 6: Overordered Microbiology Tests

HIV-Qualitative & Quantitative (Same Order)
Serum Bacterial Antigen


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Bacterial Antigen Testing

Slide 6

September 2010

Serum bacterial antigen tests are another misordered test, one that we believe should not be used. Bacterial antigen testing was developed to aid in the diagnosis of meningitis, a disorder that can be of either infectious or noninfectious origin. Most cases of infectious meningitis are caused by viruses (this was previously called aseptic meningitis because routine cerebrospinal fluid [CSF] bacterial cultures yielded no growth). While most meningeal infections are viral, bacterial causes are not uncommon. Differentiating viral from bacterial causes of meningitis is important because they are treated differently. Bacterial infections require prompt antibiotic therapy to avoid serious and sometimes fatal outcomes. In contrast, supportive care (and perhaps antiviral therapy) is indicated for patients with viral meningitis. Bacterial antigen testing offered the benefit of being faster than culture.

Bacterial Antigen Testing


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