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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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Advantages of POCT

POCT has been integrated into the healthcare system to provide laboratory testing outside of the main laboratory with dedicated laboratory testing space. As with any change in delivery of service, there are advantages and disadvantages to the process, testing methods, and outcomes. Some advantages of POCT include:
  • Efficiency: POCT uses efficient work flow process, as the testing is performed at the bedside or in close proximity to the location of patient care. The testing is performed within the clinical management setting. Determination of need for testing is made at the bedside with the testing being implemented within a short time frame.
  • Speed of diagnosis and treatment: Rapid test results with the potential to expedite medical decision-making. The POCT is conducted and medical care can be promptly implemented. In addition to rapid implementation of treatment, the process is more efficient for the physician, as there is not a need to refamiliarize with the case after test results are returned from a central laboratory.
  • Expanded testing capabilities: Provision of laboratory testing in a wide variety of sites both within and outside of the health care facility. Possible non-traditional testing locations or circumstances include, but are not limited to, underserved populations, rural areas, and locations with limited infrastructure or personnel (eg, disaster, accident, or military sites).
  • Specimen stability and ease of handling:
    • Unprocessed samples, such as whole blood, that do not require centrifugation or processing.
    • Reduced potential for sample deterioration, since most POCT is initiated and performed rapidly once the sample is obtained. Potential changes may occur to samples sent to the central laboratory due to analyte instability, exposure to the environment, cellular metabolism, and temperature variation.
    • Sample volume influences patient convenience with less blood loss and anemia for patients requiring frequent testing, as well as neonatal and pediatric benefit with a reduction in specimen volume.
  • Lean process: Leaner because fewer steps are necessary to produce the result, including the elimination of processing and aliquoting, the need to transport the specimen to the core laboratory, and communicating results back to the clinical staff.
  • Portable devices:
    • Diminished space requirements for operation and storage.
    • Wide menu of analytes.
    • Allows testing to be performed in a variety of locations.
    • Flexibility to meet the diversity of medical needs.
  • Improved patient outcomes: The immediately availability of test results can be linked to patient management to facilitate movement of individual patients through the system faster or to allow for handling of more patients in a diminished time frame.