Molecular point-of-care testing for respiratory viruses versus routine clinical care in adults with acute respiratory illness presenting to secondary care: a pragmatic randomised controlled trial protocol (ResPOC)
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is responsible for annual winter outbreaks of respiratory tract infection among children in temperate climates, placing severe pressure on hospital beds. Cohorting of affected infants has been demonstrated to be an effective strategy in reducing nosocomial transmission of RSV, and may keep cubicles free for other patients who require them. Testing of symptomatic children for RSV is standard practice, but unfortunately traditional laboratory testing is not rapid enough to aid decision-making processes. Rapid point-of-care testing (POCT) in the emergency department has been suggested as an alternative. We performed a prospective study to quantify the amount of cubicle time saved by using POCT results to allow a targeted cohorting strategy. Over the four-month study period, the POCT allowed 183 children to be admitted directly to a designated cohort area, thus saving 568.5 cubicle-days for other patients. This is equivalent to five cubicles being left free for each day of the study period. This is the first time the benefits of using POCT have been quantified in this way. POCT for RSV is a safe, cost-effective and efficient way to improve bed management.