Point-of-care testing (POCT), or bed-side testing is defined as medical testing at or near the site of patient care. These are simple medical blood tests which can be performed at the bedside. Simple tests such as those found in medical examinations, urine test strips and even simple imaging such as with a portable ultrasound device. As well as regular observations such as ECG's, O
2 saturation and heart rate.
The driving notion behind POCT is to bring the test conveniently and immediately to the patient. This increases the likelihood that the patient, physician, and care team will receive the results quicker, which allows for immediate clinical management decisions to be made. POCT includes: blood glucose testing, blood gas and electrolytes analysis, rapid coagulation testing(PT/INR,Alere, Microvisk Ltd), rapid cardiac markers diagnostics(TRIAGE,Alere), drugs of abuse screening, urine strips testing, pregnancy testing, fecal occult blood analysis, food pathogens screening, hemoglobin diagnostics (HemoCue), infectious disease testing and cholesterol screening.
POCT is often accomplished through the use of transportable, portable, and handheld instruments (e.g., blood glucose meter, nerve conduction study device) and test kits (e.g., CRP, HBA1C, Homocystein, HIV salivary assay, etc.). Small bench analyzers or fixed equipment can also be used when a handheld device is not available—the goal is to collect the specimen and obtain the results in a very short period of time at or near the location of the patient so that the treatment plan can be adjusted as necessary before the patient leaves. Cheaper, smaller, faster, and smarter POCT devices have increased the use of POCT approaches by making it cost-effective for many diseases, such as diabetes, carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and acute coronary syndrome.
Many point-of-care test systems are realized as easy-to-use membrane-based test strips, often enclosed by a plastic test cassette. This concept often is realized in test systems for detecting pathogens. Very recently such test systems for rheumatology diagnostics have been developed, too. These tests require only a single drop of whole blood, urine or saliva, and they can be performed and interpreted by any general physician within minutes.
Major benefits are obtained when the output of a POCT device is made available immediately within an electronic medical record. Results can be shared instantaneously with all members of the medical team through the software interface enhancing communication by decreasing turn around time (TAT). A reduction in morbidity and mortality has been associated with goal-directed therapy (GDT) techniques when used in conjunction with POCT and the electronic medical record.
Potential operational benefits of POCT:More rapid decision making and triage, reduce operating times, reduce high-dependency, postoperative care time, reduce emergency room time, reduce number of outpatient clinic visits, reduce number of hospital beds required, ensure optimal use of professional time.
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