Every iteration of COVID-19 tests has been celebrated as a significant step forward in curbing the pandemic and helping the country inch back closer to “normal” life. What if one variety of test proved to be a hindrance to that effort, though? The College of American Pathologists is the latest group to raise concerns that COVID-19 tests administered at home by patients or family members may not be as accurate as those conducted in the hands of healthcare professionals in a controlled environment. The CAP hosted an online news briefing to warn that the exactitude needed for proper sample collection and handling is likely beyond the grasp of nonclinicians, especially if they’re administering the admittedly uncomfortable tests on themselves. And an insufficient sample or mishandling is more likely to produce a false result, increasing the risk that an individual could get a negative test result in spite of actually having the virus then going out an infecting others. Another issue raised by the CAP: At this point it’s unclear whether the home test kits are capable of picking up on the growing number of variants. If patients ask about the viability of home test kits, tell them that the CAP considers professionally administered tests conducted in a clinical setting to offer the best opportunity to get timely, accurate information about one’s COVID-19 status—and offer to conduct a test on the spot if the patient is concerned over a recent exposure.
Will Growing Concern Over At-Home COVID-19 Testing Persuade More Patients to Visit Urgent Care?