May 28, 2020 — As hospitals begin reopening to elective exams and procedures amid the COVID-19 pandemic, they need to be able to screen patients rapidly for the virus to ensure the safety of staff and other patients. The Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute (TCAI) at St. David's Healthcare began using the new Abbott ID NOW rapid COVID-19 test in April as one way its screens its electrophysiology (EP) patients.
However, with the rapidly evolving COVID situation and constant publication of new data, the center is reassuring its patients and community in press statements that the test it is using is accurate, country to a recently published report.
"The health and safety of our patients, caregivers and our employees are our highest priority," said Andrea Natale, M.D., executive medical director, Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute at St. David's Medical Center. "We want our community to know that we take great care in evaluating the tools we use to diagnose and treat our patients and have confidence in the continued use of the ID NOW rapid test in our hospitals."
He said when they observed recent media reports about a non-peer reviewed article that received significant media attention and questioned the effectiveness of Abbott's ID NOW rapid COVID-19 test, they thought it important to communicate with their communities about the positive experience the hospital has had with this test.
"Prior to using Abbott's ID NOW test in our hospitals in April, we conducted internal validations, which exceeded those recommended by the manufacturer," Natale said. "In order to make sure this new tool was of the highest quality before its use, we compared ID NOW to other PCR laboratory platforms. Our validation included the use of nasopharyngeal swab specimens, which we use to test all patients at our hospitals."
The results showed that of the 46 patient specimens that were positive on other platforms, 45 were positive on ID NOW, which means a positive correlation of 97.8%. Similarly, of the 58 patient specimens that were negative on other platforms, all 58 were negative on ID NOW, which means a negative correlation of 100%.
TCAI said it will continue to monitor FDA and Abbott guidance and will retest patients if the results do not match clinical symptoms.
The center said it remains diligent in its fight against coronavirus. The precautions it has taken and the new protections put in place make its clinical care facilities one of the safest places possible to receive healthcare at this time, the TCAI said in a statement.
"Urgent healthcare needs, including those unrelated to COVID-19, should not be ignored during this time," Natale said. "We are here for you, and we are well-equipped to handle any health concern you may have."
Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute at St. David's Medical Center is one of the world's pre-eminent centers dedicated to the latest treatment advances for correcting abnormal heart rhythms such as atrial fibrillation (AFib). Natale is at the forefront of advancing treatment for AFib, leading numerous clinical trials and participating in the development of new technologies and procedures.
Watch an interview with Natale in the VIDEO: How to Start an Electrophysiology Program.