When using rapid point-of-care (POC) tests for the novel coronavirus, healthcare institutions need to monitor the proficiency of operators and make sure the quality of test results isn't being sacrificed for speed, according to new guidance from the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) released June 4.
The guidance document on the management of POC testing (POCT) is an update to the AACC's laboratory medicine practice guidelines/evidence-based practice for POCT, which were published in 2006.
The revised document tackles the following questions:
- What is the value of an interdisciplinary committee to oversee POCT?
- Does education improve POCT performance?
- What is the optimal staffing model for POCT?
- Do proficiency testing/external quality assessment programs improve POCT performance and patient outcomes?
- Does data management improve POCT outcomes?
- How should staff select POCT devices?
- How does POCT improve process?
In a statement about the release, the AACC highlighted its views on POCT for COVID-19. Institutions should maintain ongoing training for POC operators, track areas that need improvement, and participate in proficiency testing and quality assessment, the AACC advised.
The organization noted problems with rapid tests during the pandemic. In mid-May, the agency alerted the public to problems with Abbott Diagnostics's ultrarapid ID Now test for COVID-19, which delivers results in 15 minutes. The product will stay on the market, but negative results need to be followed up with a second test and the company needs to conduct postmarket studies to support performance.
"As transformative as these tests are ... healthcare institutions need to exercise care in all aspects of their point-of-care testing programs to make sure they aren't trading [high-quality] test results for speed," the AACC said in a statement.
Interdisciplinary committees should be managing POCT programs, according to the AACC.
"This is especially important since, unlike with standard laboratory testing, many of the operators who perform point-of-care testing are healthcare providers who don't have clinical laboratory training," the organization said. "Close collaboration between laboratory professionals and providers is therefore crucial to the success of point-of-care testing programs."