Pneumonia is a common illness, accounting for a staggering amount of worldwide morbidity and mortality. The diagnosis of pneumonia is challenging given the variety of responsible pathogens. Diagnostic testing for bacterial pneumonia has traditionally relied on time-consuming culture-based methods, though recently multiplexed molecular approaches have been described. Multiplexed molecular assays for pneumonia have the potential to provide broad diagnostic information in a rapid timeframe. Much has yet to be learned about these assays regarding analytical performance, potential impact, and optimal implementation strategy.
Herein we provide a summary of what is known and what has yet to be learned about multiplexed molecular pneumonia assays. We provide a comparison of the different commercially available assays and summarize the most current performance data for each. We further describe outcome data and lessons learned from those who have implemented these assays worldwide. Finally, based on the current state of performance and outcome data, we provide informed strategies and considerations for laboratories contemplating implementation.
Multiplexed molecular assays for the diagnosis of pneumonia boast high accuracy though the diagnostic information gained from these assays is inherently different from culture and must be interpreted in cultural context. Despite this, these assays can be powerful and effective diagnostic tools with a potential to positively impact patient care. The extent to which this is realized varies from setting to setting, though is dependent on thoughtful implementation and a focus on delivering clear, rapid, and actionable results that can be interpreted in the appropriate context.

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