The Wall Street Journal reports that a federal survey of nursing homes found that 30% of 13,150 facilities that had rapid testing equipment for at least two weeks did not use it to test a single resident or staff member, even when regulations from CMS required them to do so.
Barbara Klick, chief executive of Sholom Community Alliance, which uses a lab to test staffers at its two nursing homes in Minnesota, told WSJ that using the rapid testing equipment sent by the government requires too much staff time, with false-negative and false-positive result potential making users wary of reliability.
Antigen tests being sent to the nursing homes include the Sofia 2 from Quidel (received emergency use authorization in May), the antigen test from Becton Dickinson (EUA in July) and the Abbott BinaxNow (EUA in August). The tests from Quidel and BD require the use of a machine to read the results, while Abbott’s is designed like a pregnancy test, with results available for reading off the testing card. Quidel and BD’s tests were sent to homes in July and were followed by Abbott’s shortly after it received EUA.
In addition to homes that didn’t use the devices, WSJ said another 16% reported using the tests on fewer than 20 residents and staff members. Also, 48% of the homes reported that they hadn’t used their rapid testing equipment in the most recent week included in the data (week ended Oct. 25), with 41% of homes that were required to test staff at least once a week saying they hadn’t used it in the most recent week. Those homes said they were waiting a day or more for lab results instead.
Quidel told WSJ that it is offering a “multifaceted approach” for training and supporting those using its products, while BD told the outlet that testing, including rapid antigen tests, plays an “essential role” in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19, and most nursing homes are getting regular reorders of its tests.
An Abbott spokesperson told MassDevice that widespread and affordable rapid antigen testing helps to slow the spread of the virus and get people who are most likely to be infectious into quarantine.
“Abbott has begun shipping BinaxNOW to HBCUs, disaster areas to support relief efforts, nursing homes and assisted living centers across the U.S., and the states,” a company statement shared by an Abbott spokesperson said, referring in part to historically Black colleges and universities. “Abbott’s BinaxNOW rapid antigen test, when administered by a healthcare professional and used as intended within the first seven days of symptom onset, provides consistent and reliable results. And, unlike other rapid antigen tests, Abbott’s do not require any additional equipment. We have worked with nursing homes proactively to ensure they have the resources needed to best deploy BinaxNOW, including conducting webinars and reaching out to facilities individually.”