NZMA Alarmed For Patients At Lack Of Clinical Training In Diagnosis Of Sore Throats

Patient diagnoses are not a simple matter. What may present as a straightforward sore throat and upper respiratory tract infection, and approximately 80% are, can be a symptom of a more serious illness such as flu, bronchitis, pneumonia and glandular fever which require a full history and examination.  Pharmacists are not medically trained and do not have the clinical expertise and training in diagnosis, which can put patients at risk.  

“In-pharmacy rapid antigen detection testing, better known as RADT (such as those recently introduced by Green Cross and Life Pharmacies) that ‘diagnoses’ whether an infection is viral or bacterial sends alarm bells ringing for our patients’ safety” says Dr Kate Baddock, Chair of the New Zealand Medical Association.  

“We all understand the convenience of the ‘instant result’, but not when a patient's health and safety is compromised.  Our patients deserve the best health care available, and this type of RADT test has been independently tested and found wanting with poor sensitivity to results which means it cannot be relied on to rule out disease.  This in turn puts our patients at risk as they believe they don’t need to have a full medical consultation despite the symptoms they are experiencing.”