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How often should healthcare workers be tested for COVID?

Posted

I assume they should be tested more than the general public, but how often?

Tenebrae, BSN, RN

Specializes in Mental Health, Gerontology, Palliative. Has 8 years experience.

Depends on the patient group and their situation

I work acute pysch. Our unit has a high care area that has been set up as the 'covid ward' for any unwell patients that couldnt be managed in a general medical environment. During the lock down in April, we had a grand total of zero patients who needed to use the area. And to date we've had one patient come in from the quarantine hotel who needed to be in the area. 

So far I've not needed to get any covid tests

If I was working in an area that had hands on contact with covid cases then I'd probably have had a few. 

If I lived and worked in America I would have most likely needed many

T-Bird78

Has 6 years experience.

How often SHOULD and how often ARE we is two completely different answers LOL.  I work in an office but we do have COVID pts coming in as long as it’s been 2 weeks since their positive test. My docs are ENT, so they’re still in the hospitals, doing trachs on COVID pts.  One of my docs tested positive last week and we were told we could qualify for asymptomatic testing if we wanted it. I got mine done yesterday but can still work while waiting on our results if we don’t have sx.  I think our docs should have been tested at least weekly due to their exposure and we should have been required to be tested since our MD is positive. The only reason he got tested was because he was experiencing cold-like sx, so there’s no telling how long he’d had it before sx appeared. 

juan de la cruz, MSN, RN, NP

Specializes in APRN, Adult Critical Care. Has 27 years experience.

I work as an ICU NP and have been inside the room of a COVID 19 patient doing an admission assessment, procedures (including assisting with an intubation), etc.  We have adequate PPE's including the wearing of PAPR for those who prefer it.  There is no specific policy that asks employees like me to be tested routinely if we follow the protocols and PPE requirements in patients with COVID 19.  We have daily screening questionnaire we must complete prior to working and if we fail the screening, we are asked to report to Occupational Health to be tested.  

However, we have a staff COVID 19 Exposure Policy that covers nurses, providers, and everyone else working in the clinical setting in situations wherein a staff member may have had contact with someone (patient, another staff, etc) who later tested positive for COVID 19 while wearing suboptimal or no PPE. That staff member is either contacted by Occupational Health or must call a hotline to report the incident similar to needlesticks. The provider at Occupational Health will make the determination of degree of risk (there are 3 risk categories from low to high). Testing is done regardless of risk but low risk exposure does not require quarantine. 

Of note, as an academic medical center, we have ongoing research studies for healthcare workers that many nurses and providers have signed up for that requires swab PCR testing and antibody testing from every week to every month depending on the specific study to track healthcare workers infection rates.  I am signed up in one of the studies.

juan de la cruz, MSN, RN, NP

Specializes in APRN, Adult Critical Care. Has 27 years experience.

@T-Bird78, do you know what PPE requirements the ENT docs have while operating? I ask because at least where I work, any OR case that has AGP which basically is all ENT cases requires everyone in the case to wear PAPR or N95 mask with a face shield.  All elective and emergent surgeries must have a COVID19 test prior to the case.  If positive, urgency of the procedure is assessed against the risk it can impose on all staff who will be in the room for the case. Of course, this is not completely fail safe but this was adopted for the mere fact that ENT docs have long been considered high risk for COVID 19 infection from as early as case reports from Italy at the start of the pandemic.

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education. Has 15 years experience.

@juan de la cruz we are the same. Anything involving the mouth or airway is full PPE negative test or not in my OR. 

JVBT, ASN

Specializes in clinic nurse. Has 5 years experience.

On 10/9/2020 at 10:34 AM, juan de la cruz said:

I work as an ICU NP and have been inside the room of a COVID 19 patient doing an admission assessment, procedures (including assisting with an intubation), etc.  We have adequate PPE's including the wearing of PAPR for those who prefer it.  There is no specific policy that asks employees like me to be tested routinely if we follow the protocols and PPE requirements in patients with COVID 19.  We have daily screening questionnaire we must complete prior to working and if we fail the screening, we are asked to report to Occupational Health to be tested.  

However, we have a staff COVID 19 Exposure Policy that covers nurses, providers, and everyone else working in the clinical setting in situations wherein a staff member may have had contact with someone (patient, another staff, etc) who later tested positive for COVID 19 while wearing suboptimal or no PPE. That staff member is either contacted by Occupational Health or must call a hotline to report the incident similar to needlesticks. The provider at Occupational Health will make the determination of degree of risk (there are 3 risk categories from low to high). Testing is done regardless of risk but low risk exposure does not require quarantine. 

Of note, as an academic medical center, we have ongoing research studies for healthcare workers that many nurses and providers have signed up for that requires swab PCR testing and antibody testing from every week to every month depending on the specific study to track healthcare workers infection rates.  I am signed up in one of the studies.

Very thorough answer and very thorough policy. I'm impressed!

JVBT, ASN

Specializes in clinic nurse. Has 5 years experience.

On 10/9/2020 at 7:51 AM, T-Bird78 said:

How often SHOULD and how often ARE we is two completely different answers LOL.

Could not agree more! I'm thinking many clinics and other medical centers would almost rather not know! I don't work in a true hospital setting, but more like rehab, and we self-attest daily, and if we screen + we are sent to another location to get tested. Not very convenient, but that's the best we have right now. I am doing my utmost not to get covid.

Missingyou, CNA

Specializes in Long term care. Has 20 years experience.

I work in LTC. We've been testing once a week up until this past week when several residents& staff tested positive. We now are required by CMS  to test every 3 to 7 days (but our facility is requiring 2times a week) until we go 2full weeks of no positive tests for both staff & residents. 

....it's going be a long Winter...

9kidsmomRN

Specializes in Cardiac. Has 29 years experience.

Quote

If I lived and worked in America I would have most likely needed many

I’m not sure what that means

I work with nurses who have been tested 5-7 times due to various complaints/symptoms. I have never called in sick-nor have I had any symptoms, so I have not been tested. I have cared for covid + in both my unit’s neg pressure room and in our COVID ICU as float help. not much contact compared to some of our staff.  every area of the hospital wears minimum surgical mask, with face shield/gloves added in every pt room and N95 with gown/face shield/gloves  for high risk procedures ie bronchs, induced sputums...

we also have daily attest action forms, required daily temp 2 hours before work, and all elective surgeries/procedures require a negative test. We just started antigen testing on all admits with PCR if symptoms or if antigen is positive 

Edited by 9kidsmomRN
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JVBT, ASN

Specializes in clinic nurse. Has 5 years experience.

To me it's interesting that if one of our patients tests positive, that's a trigger to test all patients on the floor. However, if a floor staff member tests positive, that is not a trigger to test all staff (or patients). Nor is there a trigger for floor staff testing after the positive patient test.

StrwbryblndRN

Specializes in CMSRN. Has 9 years experience.

Our staff are tested weekly with or without covid positive residents.    If even one staff is positive, all residents that were in contact with staff are tested and quarantined for 14 days.    

Edited by StrwbryblndRN