Journal of Primary Care Specialties

: 2020  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 24--25

COVID-19 central sampling team: An experience from AIIMS, New Delhi

R Chandra Shekar Reddy1, Arvind Kumar2, Komal Singh2, Naveet Wig2,  
1 Department of ENT, AIIMS, New Delhi, India
2 Department of Medicine, AIIMS, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Arvind Kumar
3094A, Department of Medicine, AIIMS, New Delhi

How to cite this article:
Reddy R C, Kumar A, Singh K, Wig N. COVID-19 central sampling team: An experience from AIIMS, New Delhi.J Prim Care Spec 2020;1:24-25

How to cite this URL:
Reddy R C, Kumar A, Singh K, Wig N. COVID-19 central sampling team: An experience from AIIMS, New Delhi. J Prim Care Spec [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Apr 17 ];1:24-25
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Full Text

The COVID-19 pandemic, which originated in the Hubei province of China, has posed great challenges to the health-care systems of various countries around the world.[1],[2] Ours is a large multispecialty institute in New Delhi that has repurposed several buildings into COVID-19 facilities in order to segregate COVID-19 patients from the rest. Despite these efforts, a number of our regular patients who were admitted to our non-COVID-19 facility subsequently required COVID-19 testing because of the development of symptoms, contact with a COVID-19 case, or suggestive radiology. There was much apprehension among the health-care workers regarding taking swabs of these patients due to the fear of contracting COVID-19. To overcome this apprehension, our institute established a central COVID-19 sampling team (CCST) comprising residents of various specialties who were trained in the correct sampling technique and who subsequently disseminated this skill to every department in the institute. We could not find data regarding central institutional sampling team in our literature search. Therefore, we would like to share our experience regarding the same.

The CCST was created at the start of April 2020 by the chairman task force of COVID-19 team of AIIMS, New Delhi, in co-ordination with representatives from various departments. It was headed by a consultant from the department of general medicine and coordinated by a senior resident from the department of ENT. The team members comprised residents who were pooled from various specialties and were trained regarding the basic relevant anatomy, correct sampling technique, as well as correct technique for donning and doffing personal protective equipment (PPE) by the coordinating senior resident from the ENT department. If a patient who was admitted for a non-COVID-19 indication subsequently became a COVID-19 suspect, the resident from that ward would contact the infectious disease (Division of General Medicine Department) team to decide whether a COVID-19 test was indicated depending on national and institutional policies. Once a decision was made to test, the virology laboratory would provide the requisite sampling material including viral transport medium (VTM). Following this, the ward resident would contact the CCST on a designated helpline number, who would then come to the ward, don PPE, and take swabs for COVID-19 testing. Every ward was made to arrange the required VTM, PPE donning and doffing area (doffing area soon to decontaminated by the calling unit was a prerequisite) for the same, as well as a separate isolation cubicle to keep COVID-19 suspects.

From its inception, the CCST has faced and overcome several difficulties due to changing circumstances. The CCST was established shortly after a nationwide lockdown was imposed by the Government of India, because of which the hospital was operating much below the capacity in anticipation of the COVID-19 surge. Thus, the workload on the CCST was relatively limited at the start. However, there were an increasing number of admitted patients who were becoming COVID-19 suspects, and the rate of COVID-19 positivity among this population was also increasing. COVID-19 testing gradually became a prerequisite for any diagnostic or therapeutic intervention, especially if liable to aerosol generation. The residents from the CCST facilitated this process by teaching the correct technique of donning and doffing to the ward residents and guiding them through sampling procedure.

In total, around 400 samples (March 2020 to September 20) were collected from various wards either by the CCST directly or under their close supervision. This helped instill confidence in the ward residents and removed any laingering apprehensions related to sampling for COVID-19. The CCST played a key role in making departments self-sufficient with regard to sampling their own patients. It also helped prepare residents for their eventual rotations in our COVID-19 hospital. The increasing positivity rate of the admitted patients who were sampled by the CCST convinced the administration to provide the best quality of PPE in non-COVID-19 wards as well. We recommend setting up an institutional sampling team for large multispecialty institutes like ours in order to cater to the hospital's sampling requirements and simultaneously disseminate the requisite skills to individual departments. This may be taken as learning, and building step for such a model will increase academic interaction among various specialties as well as build the much-needed confidence among health-care workers.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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