Matthew Norris, MD, resident physician at Overlook Medical Center, submitted a research abstract earlier this year and was recently awarded first place at the Society of Critical Care Medicine’s 50th annual meeting.
“Utility of testing for respiratory viral co-infections with SARS-CoV-2 at time of initial diagnosis” looked at all of emergency department COVID-19 cases between March 16 and April 20 to determine how frequently patients with COVID-19 were diagnosed with a secondary respiratory viral infection at the point of admission.
Of the 1,676 adult patients without a prior COVID-19 diagnosis who were initially diagnosed with the virus in our emergency department, 572 patients were tested with an additional high-target respiratory viral test and 195 patients were tested with an additional low-target respiratory viral test.
These tests identified one case of the flu, one case of human metapneumovirus, and 5 common cold viruses. Only one of these patient’s health care was significantly impacted by additional viral testing, being the patient who had influenza as was given an additional antiviral drug that specifically aims at the flu. Using Medicare clinical laboratory fees to estimate cost to the hospital system, an estimated $326,425.45 was spent in a way that only impacted one patient’s care. It also meant that over 70 hours of laboratory time required to perform the high target viral testing had little to no impact on direct patient care.
Dr. Norris explained he wanted to see what these numbers looked like for the hospital overall as to ensure OMC was performing high-value care at a time when so much around us was uncertain.
"Our COVID-19 cases are unfortunately rising again in New Jersey. However, our understanding of how to manage COVID-19 as an institution (and that of the medical community at large) has exponentially increased," he said. "We as physicians need to ensure that high quality care continues to be provided to those we serve."