“Rapid Flu Testing; improving patient outcomes, improving patient flow”

Mrs Sue Flockhart1, Dr Raquel Cowan1, Mrs Allison Hodge1, Ms Catrice  Grahame1

1Ballarat Health Services, Ballarat, Australia


In response to the increase of influenza cases in 2017, Ballarat Health Services pathology provider introduced a rapid diagnostic test (RDT) that can be done on site and has the capacity to provide a result within one hour, in comparison to conventional respiratory PCR testing where results can take ≥24hrs due to geographical location. Rapid and accurate diagnosis of influenza is critical for clinical management, infection control and bed management.


A clinical practice protocol (CPP) was developed for the use of the RDT. This had input from both Infectious Diseases (ID) and Infection Control (IC).

Staff were educated on the RDT and its application, appropriate patients to test, and reinforcing the approval process required.


In 2017 there were 649 patients tested for influenza. Of those, 291 were positive with potential for all 649 patients requiring droplet precautions until results known.

In 2018 there were 335 RDTs completed between July 1st and December 31st. Of those, 51 returned a positive result.

As of June 27th, there have been 595 RDTs completed in 2019. Of these, 170 were positive.


BHS has seen a significant increase in the use of RDT testing in 2019. RDT are limited in that they can only test for Influenza A and B, and Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and if they return a negative result the patient may be affected by another respiratory illness. Where testing has been completed, there have been improved patient outcomes, including infection control management and patient flow.


Sue is the manager of infection prevention and control at Ballarat Health Services and has been has been working in this area for 15 years. She has a Graduate Diploma in Infection Control, Masters in Nursing, is an accredited Nurse Immuniser, and HIV/Hep C counsellor. Sue is an ACIPC credentialed infection control professional at expert level and is currently a member of the Safer Care Victoria’s “Infections associated with devices working group” and the regional representative on the  VICNISS advisory committee.

Recent Comments