An article recently published in the Clinical Microbiology Newsletter made mention of a Mayo Clinic study. The article discussed a topic that has become increasingly popular—self-collected specimens.
Patients, especially the younger generation, have expressed a desire to gain control of their own health.
Self-collected specimens provide these patients with the control they are requesting as well as reduce exposure to illness in crowded emergency departments.
This increasing number of self-collection requests has prompted microbiologists to be proactive and ensure that proper training and handling instructions are available to promote accurate testing.
Mayo Clinic Self-Collection Studies
One of the highlighted studies determined that patient-collected throat swabs are as reliable as swabs completed by hospital staff. The study concluded that self-/parent-collected throat swabs saved patients from the inconvenience of travel, reduced exposure to others, reduced overall health costs, and allowed patients a more active role in their health care.
Another study noted in the article summarized the successful self-collected nasal swab study. From this study, Mayo Clinic physicians were able to determine goals to reduce unnecessary emergency department (ED) visits and limit exposure to respiratory illness commonly found in the ED during peak flu seasons. Patients over the age of 18 who met the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's definition of "influenza-like illness," provided written consent and were enrolled in the study. They were provided a flocked swab kit and an instruction card for proper collection. A health care professional was present to observe the patients while they collected their specimens but offered no guidance on the process. The patients collected the specimen from their right nostril based solely on the information in the printed guide. The self-collected specimen results were compared to the left nostril swabs taken by hospital staff.
An amazing 94.8% of the self-collected specimens matched the swabs taken by the hospital staff. In this study, 53.4% of the patients preferred self-collection, while 25.9% had no preference.