Hayli Murphy was given two H1N1, or swine flu, tests after she became ill a few weeks ago. Both of the tests came back negative, but Hayli did have the H1N1, and it almost killed her. Hayli was sent home from the emergency room after her first H1N1 test came back negative. The next day, after her fever climbed to 104 degrees, Hayli’s mother took her back to the emergency room, where a second test also came back negative. They diagnosed pneumonia and gave the girl antibiotics.
The next day, Hayli was so weak that her mother had to carry her back to the emergency room, where she was finally admitted and given Tamiflu; unfortunately Tamilflu is most effective when given within forty eight hours of the onset of flu symptoms. Once she was admitted, a more sophisticated test that takes days for results showed that Hayli really did have H1N1. She spent forty three days in pediatric intensive care at Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida with her lungs nearly destroyed by the virus.
The chairman of the pandemic influenza task force for the Infectious Diseases Society of America, Dr. Andrew Pavia, believes that doctors are relying too heavily on quick H1N1 tests, overlooking a patient’s actual symptoms if the test comes back negative. He says that the tests are cheap and fast, but “they’re not terribly accurate.” He referred to studies of the rapid tests that show that 50% of negative results are false. Companies who make the tests say that doctors should use the results with care, proceeding with more advanced tests if the rapid test gives a negative result but the flu is suspected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends antiviral medications if the patient is severely ill, is deteriorating rapidly or belongs to certain high-risk groups even if the rapid flu test came back negative.
Get the full story about Hayli and her illness at Flu Test Wrong, Girl Almost Dies.