Diagnosis and Treatment of Bacterial Pneumonia in Critically Ill Patients with COVID-19 Using a Multiplex PCR Assay: A Large Italian Hospital’s Five-Month Experience

Brunella Posteraro, Venere Cortazzo, Flora Marzia Liotti, Giulia Menchinelli, Chiara Ippoliti, Giulia De Angelis, Marilena La Sorda, Gennaro Capalbo, Joel Vargas, Massimo Antonelli, Maurizio Sanguinetti, Gennaro De Pascale, Teresa Spanu

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in rivistaArticolo in rivista


Bacterial pneumonia is a challenging coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) complication for intensive care unit (ICU) clinicians. Upon its implementation, the FilmArray pneumonia plus (FA-PP) panel’s practicability for both the diagnosis and antimicrobial therapy management of bacterial pneumonia was assessed in ICU patients with COVID-19. Respiratory samples were collected from patients who were mechanically ventilated at the time bacterial etiology and antimicrobial resistance were determined using both standard-of-care (culture and antimicrobial susceptibility testing [AST]) and FA-PP panel testing methods. Changes to targeted and/or appropriate antimicrobial therapy were reviewed. We tested 212 samples from 150 patients suspected of bacterial pneumonia. Etiologically, 120 samples were positive by both methods, two samples were culture positive but FA-PP negative (i.e., negative for on-panel organisms), and 90 were negative by both methods. FA-PP detected no culture-growing organisms (mostly Staphylococcus aureus or Pseudomonas aeruginosa) in 19 of 120 samples or antimicrobial resistance genes in two culture-negative samples for S. aureus organisms. Fifty-nine (27.8%) of 212 samples were from empirically treated patients. Antibiotics were discontinued in 5 (33.3%) of 15 patients with FA-PP-negative samples and were escalated/deescalated in 39 (88.6%) of 44 patients with FA-PP-positive samples. Overall, antibiotics were initiated in 87 (72.5%) of 120 pneumonia episodes and were not administered in 80 (87.0%) of 92 nonpneumonia episodes. Antimicrobial-resistant organisms caused 78 (60.0%) of 120 episodes. Excluding 19 colistin-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii episodes, AST confirmed appropriate antibiotic receipt in 101 (84.2%) of 120 episodes for one or more FA-PP-detected organisms. Compared to standard-of-care testing, the FA-PP panel may be of great value in the management of COVID-19 patients at risk of developing bacterial pneumonia in the ICU. IMPORTANCE Since bacterial pneumonia is relatively frequent, suspicion of it in COVID-19 patients may prompt ICU clinicians to overuse (broad-spectrum) antibiotics, particularly when empirical antibiotics do not cover the suspected pathogen. We showed that a PCR-based, culture-independent laboratory assay allows not only accurate diagnosis but also streamlining of antimicrobial therapy for bacterial pneumonia episodes. We report on the actual implementation of rapid diagnostics and its real-life impact on patient treatment, which is a gain over previously published studies on the topic. A better understanding of the role of that or similar PCR assays in routine ICU practice may lead us to appreciate the effectiveness of their implementation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)N/A-N/A
RivistaMicrobiology spectrum
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2021


  • Bacterial pneumonia
  • COVID-19
  • Diagnosis
  • FilmArray panel
  • Treatment


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