Nevada VA system does away with presurgery COVID tests

Las Vegas-based Veterans Affairs Southern Nevada Healthcare System has stopped testing asymptomatic patients for COVID-19 before surgical procedures, it announced April 10.

The 90-bed facility had been reportedly testing around 100 patients per day on average since January with a 0.54 percent positivity rate. 

The decision was made by a team of stakeholders from the facility's nursing unit, infection prevention and control, infectious disease, dental, laboratory and other key departments. 

"Pre-procedure testing of asymptomatic patients may have very limited benefit," Jason Dazley, MD, infectious disease physician for the facility, said in a media statement. "Additionally, requiring pre-procedure testing has a significant impact of time and resources for Veterans and staff." 

The VA noted that patients who are symptomatic and have a procedure scheduled should contact their physician team for further instructions. 

In December 2022, the American Society of Anesthesiologists, the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation and the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America published statements noting that pre-procedure COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic patients was no longer necessary.

Nationally, the CDC says testing of asymptomatic individuals "may be most valuable in certain settings where early identification is essential to reducing transmission and mitigating risk for severe disease among populations at high risk. CDC's COVID-19 Community Levels recommendations include implementing screening testing in high-risk settings at the medium and high levels."

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