NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES, May 10, 2023/EINPresswire.com/ — Advancements in medical testing and earlier release of results to patients are the focus of efforts to achieve major reductions in the incidence of tuberculosis (TB) both globally and in the United States, according to Robert Segal MD, co-founder and CEO of LabFinder, an online scheduling platform for patient laboratory and radiology appointments. “Although sensitivity of TB tests has improved within the past several years, we have yet to move the needle significantly toward meeting the World Health Organization’s international goal of reducing tuberculosis cases 90 percent, and TB-related mortality 95 percent, by year 2035.Rapid point-of-care testing can save lives. In the United States, reported active cases of tuberculosis rose slightly — from 7,874 in 2021 to 8,300 in 2022, based on statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in March 2023. The agency, however, estimates millions of other U.S. residents – up to 13 million — have undiagnosed latent infection (bit.ly/3KvBDX9). Globally, the disease results in some 1.8 million deaths and 10.4 million new cases annually, reports the World Health Organization.
One way of achieving this is development of better point-of-care evaluations — tests that are simple to use outside the laboratory in the community where patients first interact with the health care system and provide accurate results within a matter of minutes or hours – not days, so patients can undergo immediate treatment,” Dr. Segal emphasizes.
Experts concur. Authors of a study in the journal Pulmonology write “‘Without diagnosis, medicine is blind’ and all other efforts directed to provide adequate and prompt treatment, and hence reduce transmission [of TB], cannot be undertaken without diagnosis. Improved testing means not only developing highly sensitive and specific assays (analytic procedures) to diagnose the [disease] and [a patient’s resistance to TB drugs] but also tests that are affordable, rapid, and have the capacity to be deployed at the most decentralized level”… (bit.ly/3mrLzsL).
Dr. Segal helped establish Labfinder on the premise that medical tests should be readily accessible and affordable and provide quick results to patients. Specifically, the LabFinder system connects patients, doctors, laboratories, and radiology centers for a seamless medical experience; offers timely test scheduling; and serves as one central repository for users’ testing results. Most importantly, test results are released simultaneously to patient and clinician and are often available in as little as 24 hours.
Current standard testing for tuberculosis includes a blood test, and more commonly, a skin test, in which an antigen taken from the TB bacterium, the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex, is injected under a person’s skin and then monitored to determine the immune system’s reaction to it. Both screenings detect whether the TB bacterium has infected a person, but, unfortunately, neither test can distinguish between active infection or latent – inactive – infection, Dr. Segal states.
Also, these two common TB screenings require a few days to produce results, says Dr. Segal. Testing for TB is one of the screenings most frequently requested through LabFinder.
“Latent cases are usually asymptomatic, and many of them never blossom into active disease. However, a latent case can turn suddenly active without warning, and then be readily spread to others by the unsuspecting host. Developing assays, especially at point of care, that pinpoint latent cases without requiring patients to undergo additional follow-up testing is critically important if we are to take early preventive measures and eventually eliminate TB in this country,” Dr. Segal indicates.
His comments are underscored in a continuing education article on the www.mlo-online.com web site. “The largest benefit of point-of-care testing is that it can be done rapidly and be performed by clinical personnel who are not trained in clinical laboratory sciences. Rapid test results can provide a physician—and other clinical personnel—with answers that can quickly help determine a course of action or treatment for a patient,” experts write (bit.ly/3MywvEu).
Tuberculosis is a potentially fatal, bacterium-based infection spread through airborne droplets created when an infected individual talks, coughs, sneezes, or shouts. The disease damages lungs but can injure other organs and structures in the body as well, such as kidneys and spine. Symptoms include a non-resolving cough, coughing up blood, fever, night sweats, and unexplainable weight loss.
At risk are health care workers because of their close interaction with patients, those who have been exposed to someone with the disorder or have recently traveled to – or migrated from — a region where TB commonly occurs, IV drug users, and persons with weakened immune systems.
Dr. Segal says he is hopeful continued research will lead to more effective medical testing for the diagnosis of TB both in the laboratory and at point of care, while advancements in “eHealth” platforms like LabFinder will offer patients easier, more affordable testing options, convenient locations, and quicker access to results. He points to use of mobile and handheld monitoring devices in the community and even paper assays – much like current pregnancy tests – as future testing possibilities in the ongoing battle against TB and detection of potential resistance to TB-prescribed medications.
Meanwhile, Dr. Segal offers the following advice:
• Get tested if you develop an unresolved cough and/or fever and experience night sweats – all common symptoms of TB – or have been exposed to someone with the disease.
• First contact a health care provider about the type of TB test recommended for your situation before scheduling through “eHealth” platforms like LabFinder.
• Consider undergoing a TB test annually if work or volunteering brings you in contact with patients or large numbers of people. Health care workers normally are mandated to undergo yearly testing.
• Regular testing is suggested for individuals with compromised or weakened immune systems.
Bio: Robert Segal MD, board-certified in cardiovascular disease, echocardiography, and nuclear cardiology. He is founder of Manhattan Cardiology and Medical Offices of Manhattan, and Co-Founder of LabFinder. https://www.labfinder.com/
About: LabFinder is a consumer-facing platform that transforms the patient experience through seamless lab & radiology testing3, guiding patients to conveniently located testing centers, handling appointment bookings, offering telehealth services, and allowing patients to review their test results all in one place. LabFinder supports patients through their care journey from booking to billing—reducing expenses, hurdles, and frustrations. www.labfinder.com.