Hospitals should end mass testing for Covid, says an influential group of infectious disease experts

Hospitals should end mass testing for Covid, says an influential group of infectious disease experts

Influential panel tells hospitals: Stop mass testing for Covid, it’s a waste of money and doctors’ time

  • Doctors said the asymptomatic testing policy increased ED wait times
  • The policy followed by many hospitals during the pandemic is also too expensive
  • Testing should continue for people with weakened immune systems

An influential panel of infectious disease experts has recommended that hospitals stop testing all new admissions for Covid, a move they say comes at too high a cost to patients and providers.

The revised guidelines from the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America reversed course from early pandemic guidelines that required hospitals to carefully monitor who walks through their doors with Covid-19.

But such a policy has little or no benefit when other mitigation measures such as masking and adequate ventilation are followed and increases the cost burden on health systems.

They included mentions of studies showing that pre-admission screening can actually hinder a patient’s ability to get the care they need and does little to prevent transmission.

This comes shortly after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Covid-19 isolation guidelines liftedannouncing that vaccinated Americans exposed to the virus no longer need to self-isolate for five days as long as they wear a mask indoors.

An influential panel of experts, the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, is now discouraging hospitals from burdensome testing that increases hospital wait times and overcrowding, as well as the financial burden of keeping up with the twindemic

They also noted that the hospital’s policy of universal testing for Covid-19 is creating a ripple effect of delays in emergency departments with patients having to wait longer for care. Hospitals facing an influx of flu, RSV and Covid patients cannot afford to have overcrowded emergency departments with people who do not have access to specialized care.

The expert group wrote: ‘The use of asymptomatic screening is a unique, resource-intensive tool that is probably overused.

There was a new leadership Published in the journal Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

‘While it is essential to prevent the spread of healthcare-associated respiratory pathogens, we must critically evaluate interventions that, when added to basic layers of infection prevention, may not achieve the desired effect and may have unintended consequences for patients and healthcare workers.’

The new guidelines are sure to be controversial as they promote the scrapping of an early mainstay to mitigate the virus. A large number of hospitals across the US have been testing new admissions as well as patients waiting for surgery to reduce the risk of complications.

But with the advent of highly effective vaccines and antiviral treatments, hospital admissions due to Covid-19 have fallen dramatically compared to their levels this time less than two years ago.

“With increased population immunity to SARS-CoV-2, milder clinical outcomes, greater access to effective vaccines and therapies, and increased published experience with asymptomatic screening, it is important to assess the impact of this intervention and how it should fit into infection prevention programs as they progress.” ‘, the group wrote.

Pre-admission Covid screening creates burdensome delays in providing the medical care that sick patients need. A May 2022 study by the Cook County Department of Emergency Medicine in Illinois reported that routine asymptomatic testing for Covid increased patients’ time in the ED waiting room by an average of around seven o’clock.

The shelf is also expensive. Each test costs about $54 to administer. Testing every patient that walks through the hospital doors is a prohibitively expensive endeavor. The authors cited an encouraging study published by Spanish scientists that found that screening only a quarter of new patients had no negative effect on virus transmission.

dr. Thomas Talbot, an epidemiologist at Vanderbilt University and a member of the SHEA Board of Directors He said: ‘The small benefits that might accrue from asymptomatic testing at this stage of the pandemic are outweighed by the potential harms of procedural delays, delays in patient transfers and strain on laboratory capacity and staff.’

The committee, however, did not recommend a universal end to pre-admission screening, saying that patients at higher risk of developing severe Covid-19, such as organ transplant patients and cancer patients, should still be tested.

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