Procalcitonin (PCT) is an objective blood marker that provides useful information about the risk of bacterial infections like sepsis.

However, it is just a test. It’s important for clinicians to understand PCT’s role in the context of each patient’s clinical situation and be judicious in how they use it. In an AACC webinar on March 21, Philipp Schuetz, MD, MPH, chief physician of endocrinology, diabetes, clinical nutrition, and internal medicine at University Hospital in Basel, Switzerland, plans to discuss the clinical uses of PCT and other biomarkers in managing bacterial infection and the roles and responsibilities clinical labs have in implementing PCT testing. “This webinar will focus on the most recent evidence and give practical guidance on how to best use PCT in the context of antibiotic stewardship,” Schuetz told CLN Stat.

Schuetz is quite familiar with this topic. His group has conducted several trials on the effects of PCT-guided stewardship on antibiotic management and on patient outcomes in primary care and emergency department patients. “We have now pooled all individual trial data into an individual patient data meta-analysis with a focus on looking at safety of using PCT,” he said. The data show a significant reduction in mortality as well as significant savings of 30%-70% in antibiotics and corresponding reductions in the side effects of antibiotics.

As a host response marker, PCT is very sensitive and more specific compared with other blood markers. “It is, however, not a stand-alone test and should be used always in conjunction with clinical judgment. There are false positive and false negative values, and the clinical context is thus important to consider when making decisions about patient treatment and management,” Schuetz said.

PCT should only be used in situations where it assists in the management of patients. As an example, it may be useful in ruling out bacterial infection and subsequently, the need for antibiotics in patients with a low pretest probability (such as bronchitis patients being seen in emergency department settings). PCT results also could help to stop early antibiotic therapy in sepsis patients who are improving clinically and have dropping PCT levels.

“Lab personnel have the responsibility to advise inexperienced clinicians in the correct use of PCT at the bedside,” Schuetz said.

Register now for the free-of-charge March 21 webinar, Procalcitonin to Guide Antibiotic Decisions in Bacterial Respiratory Infections and Sepsis, and earn 1 ACCENT continuing education credit.