All asymptomatic staff at Michigan hospital test negative for COVID-19
A voluntary screening program implemented to protect personnel and patients from asymptomatic transmission of SARS-CoV-2 showed that every asymptomatic health care worker at a Michigan hospital tested negative, researchers reported.
The study was conducted at a 283-bed teaching hospital. The results, published in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, indicated that “rigorous infection control practices, including universal patient testing, symptom screening of hospital workers, and cohorting of COVID-19 patients, are an effective method of preventing SARS-CoV-2 acquisition in health care workers routinely caring for COVID-19 positive patients,” Andrew Jameson, MD, an infectious disease physician at Mercy Health Saint Mary's Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and colleagues wrote.
“In situations where you can ensure appropriate personal protective equipment, the likelihood of transmission is not very high, so testing people in that capacity is probably a waste of resources,” Jameson told Healio. “A lot of our health care workers [wondered], ‘Do I have it? Am I potentially giving it to my co-workers? I'm really worried.’ After the study, they felt reassured that they were not representing any spread.”
The study was inspired by a lack of information about the prevalence of asymptomatic positivity in health care workers (HCWs) with regular exposure to patients with COVID-19.
“On top of that, we had a couple exposures from positive patients who we didn't know were positive that resulted in a few of our nurses turning positive,” Jameson said. “Basically, we saw infections that came because they were exposed to patients whose status [was] unknown and we wanted to know if this is happening more often.”
To assess the prevalence of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 positivity among HCWs caring for patients with COVID-19, Jameson and colleagues made free, voluntary testing available to asymptomatic HCWs over a 2-week period at a Michigan hospital. According to the study, results from Cepheid GeneXpert reverse transcriptase PCR platform nasopharyngeal swabs were available within 4 hours of testing.
In total, 121 of 499 eligible personnel volunteered to undergo testing six of 53 (11.3%) eligible respiratory therapists, 33 of 92 (35.9%) eligible providers, 71 of 262 (27.1%) eligible registered nurses and 11 of 82 (13.4%) eligible patient care assistants. According to the study, all 121 tests were negative.
“The 0% positive test rate among asymptomatic staff, despite the local community and hospital system experiencing a large burden of COVID-19 cases, is a testament to the ongoing work underway to ensure safety throughout the hospital,” Jameson and colleagues wrote.