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THURSDAY, Oct. 15, 2020 (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 percent 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.

One author disclosed financial ties to various health care companies.

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