Different assessment tests and diagnostic tools can be used by nurse practitioners to test for the presence of different health conditions. Because of their different nature, different levels of sensitivity, reliability and validity are attached to them. As a result, nurse practitioners may use the tests depending on the suitability on a case-by-case basis for the determination of the presence or absence of the health condition in question. This paper looks at the effectiveness of different assessment tools for a sore throat to a patient.
Multiple tests can be used for the purpose of finding out whether an individual has a sore throat. While the basic physical exam is conducted for children and adults, a further three possible tests can be used to determine whether the patient has a sore throat or otherwise (Mayo Clinic, 2014). These three tests include the swab test, complete blood count (CBC) test and allergy tests. These can be used to determine the presence of the bacteria causing a sore throat.
In the throat test, the doctor rubs a sterilized swab around the area of the throat in order to capture a sample of the throat environment. The swab is then tested for the streptococcal bacteria, which is responsible for sore throats. Normally, clinics will have the necessary equipment that can quickly conduct the test and have the results within ten to fifteen minutes, affording the patient a quick diagnosis. As such, this method is very helpful because of its time-saving elements. Furthermore, a further test for confirmation can be done and made available in a day or two, ensuring that the patient can have reliability. However, most of the tests which come out positive have the subsequent test confirming the presence of streptococcal bacteria, showing that this test has been proven for validity.
With regards to the complete blood count method, the doctor takes a sample of the patients' blood for analysis of the amount of different amount of cells to determine whether the patient has a viral or bacterial infection. Most clinics will also have the necessary equipment for this test. Nonetheless, the ability to determine whether one has a viral or bacterial infection cannot pinpoint the location of the infection, only its effect as seen in the blood cell reactions. Therefore, reliability of this method is limited to a full-body spectrum as opposed to the throat specifically. The allergy tests, on the other hand, come about when the doctor suspects that an allergy is the cause of the sore throat. As such, it is likely that the doctor has used one of the above tests to determine that there is a sore throat and the possible cause is an allergy.
While the sore throat can be caused by different conditions, some of which are life threatening, the use of a proper diagnostic method will ensure that the patient can be saved from wrongful or delayed diagnosis (Perkins, 1997). As such, the effectiveness of the diagnostic method is key to ensure proper treatment. As seen above, the throat swab method provides for a quick analytical method, whose confirmation is available between 24 and 48 hours of the initial test. This provides reliability and validity because of the high likelihood for a repeat result on the second test.
Mayo Clinic. (2014). Sore Throat: tests and diagnosis. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sore-throat/basics/tests-diagnosis/con-20027360.
Perkins, A. (1997). An approach to diagnosing the acute sore throat. American Family Physician , 131-38.
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