Tags: Coronavirus | testing | primary care | doctors

Does Your Doctor Have a Coronavirus Test?

nurse wearing a face mask and navy blue hoodie takes a swab of a patient sitting inside a car
A nurse takes a swab at a COVID-19 drive-through testing station. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 02 July 2020 11:40 AM

Anxious patients turn to their primary care physicians for guidance on how to get tested for COVID-19 when they feel ill, but not all physicians are equipped to test. In many medical practices, there’s not enough personal protective equipment to keep staff members safe when they collect samples.

According to The New York Times, community testing centers that can provide diagnostic testing for the coronavirus are unevenly distributed, especially among the most vulnerable communities. Physicians are concerned that the situation will get worse with the reopening of states and people going back to work and school. They are especially worried about what’s going to happen in the fall if there is a rise in infections.

“Things are going to get ugly in the fall,” Dr. Gabriela Maradiaga Panayotti, a pediatrician at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, told the Times. “I don’t know if anybody knows how that’s going to be handled.”

Using data provided by the COVID Tracking Project, as of Thursday, 32,827,359 diagnostic tests have been given in the nation, with 2,674,813 of them testing positive for the coronavirus. Health experts point out that these numbers do not paint a complete picture of how widespread the problem is because many people who infect others do not have symptoms themselves and are potentially not tested.

While the government has granted emergency authorization for many community centers, urgent care centers and pharmacies to perform diagnostic tests, eligibility requirements may still impede testing and laboratory backups can hold up results for days, said the Times.

Panayotti said that one answer would be extensive “point-of-care” testing, where samples are taken and analyzed by the same healthcare provider. However, the Food and Drug Administration has approved only a few of these tests, which Panayotti said could be a “game changer” in terms of turning the tide.

Even when testing sites are up and running, there are drawbacks, said experts, such as lack of insurance to pay for the tests or ways to get to the site. The fear of getting an unexpected medical bill can keep people away, Panayotti told the Times.

According to CNET, the FDA has authorized at-home coronavirus test kits, but you still need a doctor’s order to buy them. Some of these tests require only a saliva sample instead of a nose swab, and according to Yale Public Health researchers, they are just as reliable. But here again, there is a hurdle to overcome. Not all Americans have a primary care doctor who can provide a prescription or consultation, Dr. Utibe Essien, a physician and health services researcher at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine, told the Times.

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Anxious patients turn to their primary care physicians for guidance on how to get tested for COVID-19 when they feel ill, but not all physicians are equipped to test. In many medical practices, there's not enough personal protective equipment to keep staff members safe when...
testing, primary care, doctors
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2020-40-02
Thursday, 02 July 2020 11:40 AM
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