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Bedside tests for COVID-19 may speed results and improve infection control, making them better than standard laboratory tests, a new study suggests.
Results of the bedside test take about 2 hours, compared with 21 hours for PCR lab tests, the researchers said. These findings are from more than 1,000 British hospital patients tested with the QIAstat-Dx POCT test.
Reducing the time to diagnosis allows patients to be quickly isolated and treated, the researchers said. As a second wave of the pandemic looms, rapid testing will be key to containment and preventing hospitals from becoming overwhelmed, the study authors added.
"Our findings are the first to suggest the clinical benefits of molecular point-of-care COVID-19 testing in hospitals, demonstrating reduced delays, bed moves and time in assessment areas, which all lead to better infection control," said lead study author Dr. Tristan Clark. He's an associate professor and consultant in infectious diseases at Southampton General Hospital in the United Kingdom.
When point-of-care testing (POCT) was used, 39% of patients were found to have COVID-19, compared with 28% of those tested with PCR, the study found. The POCT screening was more sensitive than the PCR test, the researchers said.
The report was published online Oct. 8 in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine journal.
The findings are evidence that POCT is feasible and could help decision making in diagnosis and containment as the pandemic continues, the study authors said in a journal news release.
-- Steven Reinberg
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