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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Point-of-Care Testing (POCT): The Applications, Advantages, and Challenges. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Defining Point-of-Care Testing (POCT)

POCT is broadly defined as diagnostic tests performed at the point of care in any healthcare institution. This broad definition is applicable in many contexts. The adaptable definitions in specific contexts are outlined below.
The geographical context for POCT is based on the testing location, specifically, testing performed outside of the main or core laboratory where patient care takes place. There is no dedicated space for testing equipment. A geography outside of the main laboratory is the core of POCT. There are many geographic possibilities, to include the emergency department (ED), operating room (OR), radiology, a physician's office laboratory (POL), other ambulatory care settings, or even in the patient's home.
Functional context of POCT includes a rapid turnaround of test results that are immediately or readily available for patient care. This is testing that is carried out and reported without referring to a laboratory. POCT contributes to the overall function of the patient care unit with the provision of diagnostic data without delay.
Technological context refers to testing that is most often conducted with small, portable, handheld devices or manual kits. It is this portability of equipment and methods that provides the advantages of POCT and contributes to the impact that it has had on patient care. Although used most often outside the central laboratory, they may also be used to perform testing in the central laboratory.
When defined in an operational context, POCT is testing incorporated into the patient care location, that is dependent on and inclusive of the personnel team involved (usually non-laboratory staff). The testing, utilizing on-site personnel with no need to refer to an alternate laboratory location, contributes to a seamless testing process, with contribution to patient diagnostics, as well as initiating or monitoring of treatment. Examples of clinical personnel who may perform POCT include nurses, medical assistants, emergency medical technicians, physicians, physician assistants, and medics. An operational definition may also include testing personnel in other non-central laboratory sites, such as physician offices, clinics, and small, decentralized laboratories.