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Journal of Hospital Medicine Publishes Novel Research on Pooled Testing for SARS-CoV-2

July 30, 2020

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Strategy Has Potential to Conserve Testing Supplies and PPE, Reduce Cost of Large-scale Testing

Earlier this week, the Journal of Hospital Medicine (JHM), the official peer-reviewed journal of the Society of Hospital Medicine (SHM), published novel research online first, “Pooled Testing for SARS-CoV-2 in Hospitalized Patients,” authored by David Mastrianni, MD, et al. This study demonstrates a method of SARS-CoV-2 testing that may help conserve testing supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) while reducing the cost of large-scale testing.

While the traditional technique requires running one test for each person, pooled testing combines samples from several people within a single test. If the test is negative, everyone whose sample was combined has tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 while utilizing supplies for only a single test. However, if the test is positive, each person must be tested individually.

"Pooled testing may offer substantial cost savings and preserve often scarce testing supplies when the COVID-19 prevalence in a community is low, when specific individuals are at low risk or when the goal is to identify infections in people without symptoms," explains Samir S. Shah, MD, MSCE, MHM, Editor-in-Chief of JHM.

While other studies have discussed this approach from a theoretical perspective and used modeling, Mastrianni, et al. implemented pooled testing in their community hospital, Saratoga Hospital in Saratoga Springs, NY, and limited pooled testing to patients they deemed low risk. Ultimately, by testing patients in groups of two or three, they used only 190 testing cartridges for the group of 530 patients, saving 340 test kits and yielding faster test results. By knowing a patient’s status, the Saratoga Hospital team could cohort COVID and non-COVID patients in different locations in the hospital and use different protocols for their protection and the protection of staff.

“Testing all admitted patients is reassuring to our community,” notes Dr. Mastrianni, the corresponding author of the report. “We hope our report of pooled testing will be helpful to those considering using it in a variety of other situations, such as business and school reopening.”

In late May, Saratoga Hospital submitted this protocol for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), which was approved by the NYS Department of Health in late June.

Read the full article here and explore more from the Journal of Hospital Medicine at

About the Journal of Hospital Medicine:

The Journal of Hospital Medicine is the premier, ISI-indexed publication for the specialty of hospital medicine and official journal of the Society of Hospital Medicine. Published by Frontline Medical Communications, the journal advances excellence in hospital medicine as a defined specialty through the dissemination of research, evidence-based clinical care, and advocacy of safe, effective care for hospitalized patients. For more information, please visit and follow the Journal of Hospital Medicine on Twitter @JHospMedicine.