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Point-of-care testing (POCT)

Nowadays, many medical laboratory tests can be performed outside the laboratory by less-specialized individuals, often directly at a patient’s bedside. These tests, which produce results in minutes, are known as point-of-care tests (POCTs). Examples of POCTs include the measurement of glucose levels by diabetic patients and home pregnancy tests. Other tests that are less well known to the general public can also be performed with POCT: antigen and antibody testing, drug screens, anticoagulant treatment follow-ups, etc.

Given the longer time required to send tests to hospital laboratories during the COVID-19 pandemic, the availability of tests that detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus or antibodies produced in response to infection with this virus (serological tests) is highly desirable. Such tests already exist to detect the virus, and several POCT-type serologic tests are in the process of being approved by Health Canada.

Term of the Week

Hot zone

A hot zone is a section of a facility (sometimes an entire facility or even a city district) where there is a high risk of contamination by patients with an infectious disease. All individuals entering a hot zone must respect appropriate protective measures. By analogy, “cold zone” and “warm zone” are used to refer to areas where there is no infected individual or only individuals suspected of having an infection.