HealthDay News — Point-of-care testing is associated with large reductions in the time to results for patients presenting with suspected COVID-19, according to a study published online Oct. 8 in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

Nathan J. Brendish, Ph.D., from the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a nonrandomized controlled study of molecular point-of-care testing in patients 18 years or older with suspected COVID-19 during the first wave of the pandemic in the United Kingdom. In the point-of-care testing group, nose and throat swab samples were tested with the QIAstat-Dx Respiratory SARS-CoV-2 Panel, while samples from the control group were tested with laboratory polymerase chain reaction. Samples were included from 499 patients in the point-of-care testing group and 555 contemporaneous controls.

The researchers found that 39% and 28% of patients in the point-of-care testing group and the control group, respectively, tested positive for COVID-19. The median time to results was 1.7 and 21.3 hours in the point-of-care testing and control groups, respectively. Time to results was significantly shorter in the point-of-care testing group versus the control group in a hazards regression model controlling for age, sex, time of presentation, and severity of illness.

“Resources should urgently be made available to support the implementation of appropriate point-of-care testing platforms in emergency departments and admission units in hospitals in preparation for the next phase of the pandemic,” the authors write.


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One author disclosed financial ties to various health care companies.

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