COVID-19 testing now offered at UI Hospitals & Clinics, capacity still limited

Starting Friday, March 20, UI Hospitals & Clinics began testing for COVID-19 in the UI Hospitals & Clinics Clinical Microbiology Laboratory. The Epic order name remains the same (“Novel Coronavirus COVID-19”).

What this means

We hope eventually to have more testing capacity, but there are nationwide shortages of several items needed for testing. Because of this, the Epic order will still require you to select a test indication from the categories outlined below:

  • Hospitalized patients with fever and respiratory failure and no alternate diagnosis
  • Older adults (>60 years of age) with fever and respiratory symptoms and chronic medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, heart disease, immunosuppressive medications, chronic lung disease, or chronic kidney disease)
  • Persons with fever or respiratory illness who live in congregate setting (i.e., long-term care facilities, dormitories, residential facilities, correctional facilities, treatment facilities)
  • Essential services personnel with fever or respiratory illness (i.e., health care providers, fire and EMS, law enforcement, residential facility staff)

If your patient does not fall into one of the above categories but you have clinical suspicion for COVID-19, you will still be allowed to place the order. However, in the event of a testing shortage the test may be canceled or may have a longer turnaround time. We must prioritize testing to those for whom test results will have the greatest impact. Test orders will be reviewed for appropriateness.

Importantly, you no longer need to contact epidemiology to get approval for testing.

In addition, due to ongoing shortages of nasopharyngeal (NP) and oropharyngeal (OP) swabs, the sample requirements for the test (NP swab, OP swab, sputum) may change over time as availability changes. We will do our best to update the Epic order to list the preferred specimen type first. Please note that NP swab, OP swab, and sputum are considered equivalent for diagnosis of COVID-19.

For questions, please contact the Clinical Microbiology Laboratory (6-2591) or Bradley Ford, MD, PhD (bradley-ford@uiowa.edu), or Daniel Diekema, MD (daniel-diekema@uiowa.edu).

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