TMC adopts new testing system to rapidly identify infections, allow targeted antibiotic treatment

Accelerate Diagnostics 4Tucson Medical Center has adopted a new technology developed by local biotechnology firm Accelerate Diagnostics Inc. that is expected to save precious time in identifying the source of bloodstream infections and determine which antibiotics would be most effective in treating them.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in late February allowed Accelerate to move forward with sharing information about the Accelerate PhenoTest BC Kit, which is designed to help save lives and reduce complications by initiating antibiotic treatment significantly more quickly in cases of bacterial or yeast blood infections.

About 2 million people are infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria annually in the United States and at least 23,000 die as a result, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Because these infections escalate very quickly, physicians concerned about a delay in treatment may sometimes employ a more broad-brush treatment. Over time, however, that builds resistance.

Accelerate Diagnostics“When we talk about heart attacks, we say that time is tissue, which is why we need immediate medical intervention,” said John Allen, director of TMC Laboratory Services. “When we talk about sepsis, time is life.

“We’re very excited by the promise of this test to help us find more targeted therapy as quickly as possible to improve patient outcomes and potentially save lives.”

TMC has worked closely with the company since it was recruited to Tucson in 2012, from providing specimens to helping run testing prototypes. “We’re very proud to work with the team at TMC,” said Lawrence Mehren, president and CEO of Accelerate Diagnostics. “Their dedication to providing the best care possible to our community is evident in the work they do each and every day.”

The company, which at the time pledged to add 30 jobs, has experienced rapid growth and now employs more than 100 people in leased space in the Abrams Public Health Center. “In addition to the life-saving work this company is doing, TMC is pleased to foster the biotech presence in our community and support local, ongoing economic development efforts,” Allen said.

Accelerate Diagnostics 3Traditional test results may take up to 48 hours after infection is detected in a positive blood culture. In a fraction of the time, the Accelerate PhenoTest BC Kit can identify more than two dozen species of bacteria and yeast that can cause infection, and help indicate its responsiveness to 18 different antibiotics, according to the FDA. It can also help identify whether the infection is showing indication of antibiotic-resistance.

FDA approval was based largely on a review of a primary clinical study, which determined the test correctly identified strains of bacteria or yeast more than 95 percent of the time in a sample of 1,850 positive blood cultures.


TMC Infection Prevention League

Hello! I am The Specialist.

Oct 14-20 is International Infection Prevention Week, which highlights efforts in educating healthcare workers, healthcare administrators, and the community about the importance steps in reducing and preventing infections.

I am part of the Infection Prevention League, which is an internal Tucson Medical Center initiative that we now want to share with our valued community. The League is a group of powerful characters who embody all of the important steps in keeping ourselves healthy.

As the “Specialist”, my job is to support the League in ensuring that every infection prevention activity happens all the time, without error.  We are only as effective as our commitment to each infection prevention step.

I make sure that infection prevention at TMC and in the community is based on well established evidence and recommendations.  I identify infection threats and create a plan of attack….I guess that what makes me the brains behind the League!

At TMC, we are committed to protecting our patients, visitors and healthcare staff from infection and we demonstrate this by:

  • Cleaning hands and hospital environment regularly
  • Using CDC Isolation Precautions to keep germs contained
  • Educating our staff about the latest infection prevention activities and the germs that put our patients at risk
  • Monitoring for certain hospital acquired infections and reporting to our staff so they all know where we stand in our mission
  • Continuous review of our infection control program to make it better and more effective
  • And most importantly, never forgetting that it is people’s lives we are affecting and protecting!

I am associated with a dedicated group of real specialists at TMC that are available to the health care staff and patients to explain infection prevention and provide every day support in our mission to keep TMC free of hospital acquired infections.

You can reach out to the Specialists with your questions at,
and follow the TMC Infection Prevention League posts this week and meet all of our members.

Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461