Microbiology, Test Utilization

Spectrum Health Regional Laboratory Discontinues Influenza Rapid Antigen Testing

There has been a minor change to the influenza testing methods performed by the Spectrum Health Regional Laboratory (SHRL) to improve the accuracy and timeliness of patient results, while simplifying the ordering process for providers. In past years during respiratory illness season, the lab performed influenza rapid antigen testing due to its low cost and rapid turnaround time, with negative specimens reflexed to PCR for confirmatory testing. Approximately 85% of specimens tested by a rapid antigen method typically reflexed, with those patients charged for performing both tests.

Due to advances in technology, the lab is now able to offer a rapid influenza PCR to replace this reflexive testing approach. By eliminating two tests for the majority of specimens, patients benefit from a reduced average charge and reduced average time to result.

Since standalone PCR testing is now the only test offered by SHRL for local patients, ordering is more straightforward for providers who do not have to account for seasonality. However, regional provider offices and hospitals (including Blodgett Hospital) may still benefit from point-of-care rapid antigen testing during Flu season due to delays in transport time of specimens to SHRL for PCR testing.

 

Regional sites performing Influenza rapid antigen testing:

Flu season: order Test Code 155 “Influenza (Flu) A/B Rapid. Influenza A/B PCR if Negative.”
Non-Flu season: order Test Code 156 “Influenza (Flu) A/B PCR.”

Grand Rapids providers:

Year-round: order Test Code 156 “Influenza (Flu) A/B PCR.”

 

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