Tests for the Clostridium difficile infection are missing 20% of cases and falsely diagnosing thousands of others, researchers have said.
A study by St George’s, University of London, and St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust found that the six most commonly used tests for the hospital bug gave inaccurate results.
As a result of the findings, researchers have recommended that patients are subjected to two-stage testing to avoid misdiagnosis.
The study, which will be published on The Lancet’s Infectious Diseases website, reviewed 18 studies of the effectiveness of the current tests.
Scientists found that 20% of positive results for C difficile may be false, meaning that 11,000 patients may have been falsely diagnosed last year.
Tests were also found to be missing up to 20% of real C difficile cases, leading to infected patients not receiving the right treatment.
C difficile is a hospital-acquired infection which can lead to diarrhoea and severe inflammation of the bowel and can be fatal.
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