Routine, molecular point-of-care testing for SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory viruses within an acute oncology service improves patient care

J Infect. 2023 Dec;87(6):516-523. doi: 10.1016/j.jinf.2023.09.012. Epub 2023 Oct 5.


Objectives: COVID-19 has caused significant challenges for infection prevention measures and patient flow in hospital admission pathways. We aimed to assess the impact of replacing laboratory PCR with molecular point-of-care testing (mPOCT) for respiratory viruses including SARS-CoV-2, within an Acute Oncology Service (AOS).

Methods: This pre- and post-implementation study took place in the AOS of a large teaching hospital, in Southampton, UK. We collected data from two periods: November 25th, 2019 to November 24th, 2020, when respiratory virus testing utilised laboratory PCR, and December 1st, 2020 to May 31st, 2021 following the introduction of mPOCT. The primary outcome was the time to results.

Results: 2189 patients were tested in the pre-implementation period and 1540 in the post implementation period. Median (IQR) time to results was 5.8 h (4.2-10.6) pre-implementation and 1.9 h (1.5-3.0) post-implementation (difference -3.6 h [95%CI to -3.8 to -3.5]; p < 0.0001). Median time spent in assessment areas was 6.0 h (4.1-7.9) pre-implementation and 5.5 h (3.8-7.4) post-implementation (p < 0.0001). 20 (0.9%) patients admitted via AOS assessment unit developed hospital-acquired respiratory virus infection pre-implementation versus 0 (0%) post-implementation (p = 0.031).

Conclusions: Routine mPOCT for respiratory viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, was associated with a reduced time to results, reduced time in assessment areas, and a reduction in the rates of hospital-acquired respiratory virus infection in an acute oncology assessment unit.

Keywords: Acute oncology service; COVID-19; Cancer; Immunosuppressed; Influenza; Oncology; Point-of-care testing; Respiratory viruses; SARS-CoV-2.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / diagnosis
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Point-of-Care Testing
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Viruses*