The role of laboratory testing in hospitalised and critically ill COVID-19-positive patients

S Omar, D Baker, R Siebert, I Joubert, B Levy, F Paruk, P D Gopalan


The COVID-19 pandemic has placed healthcare resources around the world under immense pressure. South Africa, given the condition of its healthcare system, is particularly vulnerable. There has been much discussion around rational healthcare utilisation, ranging from diagnostic testing and personal protective equipment to triage and appropriate use of ventilation strategies. There has, however, been little guidance around use of laboratory tests once COVID-19 positive patients have been admitted to hospital. We present a working guide to rational laboratory test use, specifically for COVID-19, among hospitalised patients, including the critically ill. The specific tests, the reasons for testing, their clinical usefulness, timing and frequency are addressed. We also provide a discussion around evidence for the use of these tests from a clinical perspective.

Authors' affiliations

S Omar, Intensive Care Unit, Division of Critical Care, School of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand and Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, Johannesburg, South Africa

D Baker, Department of Adult Critical Care, Livingstone Tertiary Hospital and Faculty of Health Sciences, Walter Sisulu University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

R Siebert, Life Groenkloof Hospital, Tshwane, South Africa

I Joubert, Division of Critical Care, Department of Anaesthesia and Perioperative Medicine, Groote Schuur Hospital and University of Cape Town, South Africa

B Levy, Intensive Care, Netcare Rosebank Hospital, Johannesburg, South Africa

F Paruk, Critical Care Department, Steve Biko Academic Hospital and University of Pretoria, South Africa

P D Gopalan, Discipline of Anaesthesiology and Critical Care, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

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Cite this article

Southern African Journal of Critical Care 2020;36(1):14-17. DOI:10.7196/SAJCC.2020.v36i1.447

Article History

Date submitted: 2020-07-30
Date published: 2020-07-30

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