A Web Application to Facilitate Syphilis Reactor Grid Evaluations
Many health departments use a “reactor grid” to determine which laboratory-reported syphilis serologic test results require investigation. We developed a Web-based tool, the Syphilis Reactor Grid Evaluator (SRGE), to facilitate health department reactor grid evaluations and test the tool using data from Seattle & King County, Washington.Methods
We developed SRGE using the R Shiny Web application framework. When populated with a data set including titer results and final disposition codes, SRGE displays the percent of verified early syphilis cases by serologic titer result and patient age in each cell of the grid. The results can be optionally stratified by sex, test type, and previous rapid plasma reagin titer. The impact of closing laboratory results without investigation in cells selected by the user is dynamically computed. The SRGE calculates the percent of all laboratory reports closed (“efficiency gained”), the proportion of all early syphilis cases closed without investigation (“case finding loss”), and the ratio of percent of cases identified for investigation to percent of all laboratory reports investigated (“efficiency ratio”). After defining algorithms, users can compare them side-by-side, combine subgroup-specific algorithms, and export results. We used SRGE to compare the current Public Health–Seattle & King County (PHSKC) reactor grid to 5 alternate algorithms.Results
Of 13,504 rapid plasma reagin results reported to PHSKC from January 1, 2006, to December 31, 2015, 1565 were linked to verified early syphilis cases. Updating PHSKC's current reactor grid could result in an efficiency gain of 4.8% to 25.2% (653–3403 laboratory reports) and case finding loss of 1% to 8.4% (10–99 fewer cases investigated).Conclusions
The Syphilis Reactor Grid Evaluator can be used to rapidly evaluate alternative approaches to optimizing the reactor grid. Changing the reactor grid in King County to close more laboratory results without investigation could improve efficiency with minimal impact on syphilis case finding.