Diagnostic delay in pulmonary blastomycosis: a case series reflecting a referral center experience

Aysun Tekin, Yuliya Pinevich, Vitaly Herasevich, Brian W. Pickering, Paschalis Vergidis, Ognjen Gajic, John C. O’Horo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: The diagnosis of pulmonary blastomycosis is usually delayed because of its non-specific presentation. We aimed to assess the extent of diagnostic delay in hospitalized patients and detect the step in the diagnostic process that requires the most improvement. Methods: Adult patients diagnosed with pulmonary blastomycosis during a hospital admission between January 2010 through November 2021 were eligible for inclusion. Patients who did not have pulmonary involvement and who were diagnosed before admission were excluded. Demographics and comorbid conditions, specifics of disease presentation, and interventions were evaluated. The timing of the diagnosis, antifungal treatment, and patient outcomes were noted. Descriptive analytical tests were performed. Results: A total of 43 patients were diagnosed with pulmonary blastomycosis during their admissions. The median age was 47 years, with 13 (30%) females. Of all patients, 29 (67%) had isolated pulmonary infection, while 14 (33%) had disseminated disease, affecting mostly skin and musculoskeletal system. The median duration between the initial symptoms and health care encounters was 4 days, and the time to hospital admission was 9 days. The median duration from the initial symptoms to the diagnosis was 20 days. Forty patients (93%) were treated with empirical antibacterials before a definitive diagnosis was made. In addition, corticosteroid treatment was empirically administered to 15 patients (35%) before the diagnosis, with indications such as suspicion of inflammatory processes or symptom relief. In 38 patients (88%), the first performed fungal diagnostic test was positive. Nineteen patients (44%) required admission to the intensive care unit, and 11 patients (26%) died during their hospital stay. Conclusion: There was a delay in diagnosis of patients with pulmonary blastomycosis, largely attributable to the lack of consideration of the etiological agent. Novel approaches to assist providers in recognizing the illness earlier and trigger evaluation are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInfection
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • Advanced informatics technology
  • Atypical microorganisms
  • Blastomycosis
  • Diagnostic delay
  • Intelligent alert systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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