What happens after I collect the specimen?

If COVID-19 is suspected, clinic staff will be instructed to collect a nasopharyngeal (NP) swab for testing. This swab will first be tested for common pathogens using the respiratory pathogen panel (RPP) and if negative, the swab will reflexively be tested for the COVID-19 causing virus.

After testing, if the patient is stable and would normally be discharged to home, it is acceptable to do so, even with tests pending. It is not recommended to keep patients in the clinic or ED if there is no clinical criteria for hospital admission.

If a patient is discharged to home, be sure to give the patient information for self-monitoring and quarantine if applicable

Test Results: You should anticipate being notified of test results within one day

  • If the RPP is positive (+), an alternate diagnosis has been achieved: 
    • Update the patient and clinically treat as indicated 
  • If the RPP is negative (-), then the sample will be automatically reflexed to test for COVID-19: 
    • If COVID-19 testing is negative (-), the patient should be instructed on general infection control practices (i.e., hand hygiene, cover cough, return to work after 24 hours fever free and clinical improvement).
    • If COVID-19 testing is positive (+), be sure to notify the patient and Infection Control & Epidemiology, (ICE) using the pager 402.888.4646. Most likely, ICE may contact you first. The Douglas County Health Department will be notified by ICE. The patient will be instructed about next steps and provided recommendations regarding home quarantine versus further evaluation for possible hospital admission or care in a non-home setting. Your clinical judgement and knowledge of the patient will be critical in helping to make this determination.

Update: An updated and streamlined testing process at Nebraska Medicine is expected to initiate on March 11, 2020. This guidance document will be updated at that time.