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Paramedics to test patients for Covid-19 to prevent hospital handover delays


By PA News

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An ambulance service has started testing patients for Covid-19 at home with rapid lateral flow tests to prevent handover delays on arrival at hospital.

South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) has launched the trial for all patients aged 18 and above – with or without symptoms – who are being taken to Oxford University Hospitals.

The test involves placing a swab in the nose and/or mouth which is then mixed with a solution that looks for virus fragments. Droplets are then placed on to the device and a result is delivered within 30 minutes.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

Dr John Black, medical director at SCAS, said: “The pandemic saw hospitals quickly arrange separate pathways for receiving patients, with red/Covid-19 for patients reporting symptoms and with suspected or confirmed infection, and green/non-Covid for patients not reporting symptoms and without suspected or confirmed infection.

“When these tests are carried out on arrival at hospital, social distancing requirements and the wait for results may contribute to ambulance handover delays and a bottleneck in patient flow through the care pathways.

“We expect the use of lateral flow tests pre-hospital to have a direct and positive impact on reducing handover delays, improving bottleneck of patients in the red/Covid care pathway queue and increase patient hospital flow.

“This is a small study to begin with in Oxford, so it will not happen with every patient transfer across SCAS, however further rollout to a wider area will be considered if the concept is proved through the pilot and there is sufficient access to lateral flow devices.”

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