Staffing and Rapid Tests

Angie Szumlinski News

Staffing challenges have become the “norm” in post-acute care, there just aren’t enough caregivers to go around. Is this due to the pandemic? Maybe, maybe not, but whatever the cause, we are all struggling to staff our centers with competent, caring staff. Hopefully, we can avoid the “warm body syndrome” where we hire employees to “fill positions” versus hiring employees to provide quality care to our residents.

After reading an article in JAMA Network Open, I started to wonder, are we shooting ourselves in the foot? Think about it, unvaccinated employees are required to be tested on a scheduled basis before providing care. In the event of a positive case of COVID-19 in our centers, bi-weekly testing of staff and residents is required. The question is, if a rapid test is positive are we sending staff home? In this study, when the result of the first antigen test was positive and the result of a second antigen test was negative, the result of the second antigen test was 94% accurate.

Bottom line, when a second rapid antigen test was offered to employees, the estimated accuracy increased from 38% to 92% for a true-positive result. Think about it, if the results of the first rapid test is positive, perform a second test! Maybe we can keep more staff on the units caring for residents if we take the extra step of a second test. Maybe it will make no difference but isn’t it worth trying? Stay the course, stay informed and be well!