Point of Care Testing (POCT) is defined as testing at or near the site of Patient Care. The driving notion behind POCT is to bring the test conveniently and immediately to the patient. This increases the likelihood that the patient will receive the results in a timely manner. POCT is accomplished through the use of transportable, portable and hand held instruments that are cheaper, smaller, and faster with a same accuracy as the larger Laboratory Analyzers.
To this end, the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) has evaluated most of the POCT equipment on the market and have chosen the latest version and most accurate of analyzers to use our POCT program. These analyzers can also feed information the laboratory information system set up through out the SWRHA.
Point of Care Testing was instituted in San Fernando General Hospital, Accident and Emergency Department on the 24th March, 2010. The range of testing was chosen by the Ministry of Health. It is expected that this will bring not only relief to the doctors but the patients as well. Using evidence based medicine, a patient coming in to the Accident and Emergency can now be diagnosed in less than half an hour .i.e. within 20 minutes of seeing a doctor, the doctor can now determine if a patient has dengue and if he/she needs to be hospitalized or if he/she is stable enough to be discharged.
The Siparia District Health Facility is opening with this POCT service. In keeping with the Ministry’s vision, Point of Care Testing will be taken to all the 33 Health centres in the SWRHA as early as June, 2010. Patients attending the Chronic Disease Clinic will now, on the day of Clinic, be tested according to the International Guideline for Diabetes and Hypertension. When a patient is seen by the doctor, the doctor can intervene immediately. It is hoped that this earlier intervention into these lifestyle diseases will not only benefit the patient but also reduce the national need for kidney transplant and renal dialysis.