Review: COVID-19 testing: The threat of false-negative results

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Review: COVID-19 testing: The threat of false-negative results

Review: COVID-19 testing: The threat of false-negative results

This article discusses how failing to observe principles of evidence-based clinical reasoning when interpreting COVID-19 test results can have direct implications for public health, particularly for negative tests.

Given that early data from China suggest relatively poor sensitivity of initial RT-PCR tests, the risk from false-negative test results could be substantial as testing becomes more widespread and the prevalence of COVID-19 infection rises.

The authors recommend the following given this concern:

  1. Strict adherence to physical distancing, hand-washing, surface disinfection, and other preventive measures regardless of risk level, symptoms, or COVID-19 test result. This includes providing adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers.
  2. Improved RT-PCR tests and serological assays to minimize the risk of false-negative results and ongoing transmission based on a false sense of security.
  3. Careful assessment of risk prior to testing and interpreting negative test results for individuals with higher-risk with caution.
  4. Development and communication of clear risk-stratified protocols for management of negative COVID-19 test results.
|2020-04-20T14:39:10-04:00April 20th, 2020|COVID-19 Literature|Comments Off on Review: COVID-19 testing: The threat of false-negative results

About the Author: Erika Cheng

Erika Cheng

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