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Evaluation of the Effect of Sampling Strategy on Test Results in the COVID-19 Pandemic by Yesim Yuksel, Aylin Erman-Daloglu, Rezarta Taga-Senirli, Nilgun Gur, Yesim Cekin

Background: The oronasopharyngeal (ONP) sampling phase is critical in the diagnosis of infection during the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. In this study, the aim is to investigate the effect of the standardized operational team in the sampling unit on test results and repetitions.
Methods: Patients who applied to the Adult Pandemic Polyclinic between August 2020 and October 2021 and whose ONP samples were taken for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test were included in the study. For August 2020, the Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialists were appointed to work in the sample collection unit. For the following months, physicians from other clinics as well as ENT specialists were appointed under the same conditions. The ENT and other specialties were compared in terms of PCR positivity and test repetition.
Results: Out of a total of 129,808 patients, 21,602 (16.6%) of them were sampled by ENT physicians, and 108,206 (83.4%) by others. The first three months with the highest number of ONP samples were August 2021 (n: 20,317; 15.7%), July 2021 (n: 11,767; 9.1%), and November 2020 (n: 11,511; 8.9%). The highest positive PCR results were in August 2021 followed by August 2021 (37.3%), December 2020 (32.8%), and November 2020 (32.5%). In September 2020, more positive results were obtained from the samples taken by ENT specialists (p = 0.001). The repetition frequency of ONP samples taken by ENT and other specialists was calculated as 221 (1%) and 878 (0.8%), respectively (p > 0.05), and the month with the highest re-test rate was November 2020.
Conclusions: It is seen that the training of ENT specialists given to non-ENT specialists on sampling technique is effective and the process is managed with optimal benefit. This study can be evaluated as the first step data in comparing all these organizations and emphasizing the importance of the cooperation created by the institutions during the pandemic process.

DOI: 10.7754/Clin.Lab.2023.230208