Physician: False negative rate is high with flu tests

Physician: False negative rate is high with flu tests
One south Georgia physician says the flu test isn't perfect (Source: WALB)
Dr. Dennis Robinson (Source: WALB)
Dr. Dennis Robinson (Source: WALB)

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - On Tuesday, the Georgia Department of Public Health addressed the public's concerns over the flu epidemic bearing down on the state.

Right now, officials are conducting surveillance for the flu, working to figure out who is the most vulnerable and where the highest activity is coming from.

WALB found out during January that 63 children died from the flu across the county.

Experts said more people are getting hospitalized because of the flu than previously expected. It's even higher than the 2009 flu pandemic.

And one clinic in South Georgia is out of flu tests, but a physician said those flu tests aren't always accurate.

Dr. Dennis Robinson at Allergy and Asthma Clinic said no test is perfect.

He said what surprises him most about the flu test is how doctors get your specimen.

He said if a nurse doesn't get that specimen correctly, you may get a negative on the test, and don't get the proper treatment, which is often Tamiflu.

"The other part is, it's not a perfect test," said Dr. Robinson. "It's not going to always be positive when you actually have the disease.  A false negative rate is pretty high with this test. I tend to combine my good sense of how they look and what I see on their physical exam.  I have that higher in my mind before I even get to the test."

Robinson said he's also surprised by the number of people who still haven't gotten their flu tests.

He said flu season isn't over, and it's still not too late to get vaccinated.

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