Asymptomatic Testing Guidelines

Effective the week of April 20, VUMC started performing screening tests on selected asymptomatic patients for COVID-19 using the SARS-CoV-2 PCR test.

Screening will require collection of a nasopharyngeal specimen for SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing.

The current patient populations where asymptomatic testing is suggested includes transplant donors/recipients, inpatients being discharged to nursing homes (if required by the accepting facility), and hematology-oncology patients prior to administration of severely immunosuppressive anti-neoplastic chemotherapy.

The reason for this expansion in testing is:

  • It has been reported that some people may be infected with COVID-19 without symptoms, identifying these individuals allows us to amend treatment plans as needed (e.g. hold immune suppressing treatment until infection resolved).
  • Identifying patients who are negative for COVID-19 infection will allow us to conserve PPE through determination of high-risk procedures where an N95 is not needed.

Identifying patients with pre-symptomatic COVID will highlight those who may have higher risk of poorer outcomes from a given treatment or procedure, allowing possible deferral of care To support this policy, eStar has been amended to require that an indication for COVID-19 testing be entered whenever the test is ordered.  

When the indication for “asymptomatic screening” is selected, the patient will not require isolation precautions and the eStar flagging on the chart that occurs when ordering for a concern of symptomatic infection will not occur.  

Additional testing has started this week in patients admitted to Labor & Delivery and the Trauma Unit, due to unique issues to those patient populations, and more populations will follow in the coming weeks. Guidance on the new asymptomatic testing along with FAQs are available here.