Lateral flow testing at work – what you need to consider

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  Posted by: The Probe      12th June 2021

Coronavirus continues to be an unpredictable adversary. Not only has the virus evolved into numerous different strains, but it also seems to impact individuals differently, meaning that for some it is completely asymptomatic, while for others it can be deadly.

As such, now that lockdown measures are steadily coming to an end, many registered healthcare facilities are introducing lateral flow testing for staff in order to have greater peace of mind. But what are the benefits of lateral flow testing and what do you need to do to start integrating these into your business?

What are lateral flow tests?

In straightforward terms, lateral flow tests are testing kits for Coronavirus that have been designed to identify infection, even in people not exhibiting any symptoms. Around one in three people with Coronavirus will be completely asymptomatic,[i] meaning that these individuals can easily spread the virus without knowledge of doing so. As people exhibiting no symptoms are unlikely to book tests for themselves, lateral flow tests are a smart way to identify those who are asymptomatic but still carrying the virus.

Lateral flow tests require a swab sample from the nose and/or mouth, which is then mixed with a special solution and placed onto the lateral testing device. This uses a selection of specific labelled antibodies to identify whether Coronavirus viral fragments are present in the sample taken. Though not a fool-proof method, these tests do reliably identify people with a significant viral load, meaning they can pinpoint those who are most likely to pass the virus on.[ii]

What are the benefits?

The core benefit of performing lateral flow testing is that it allows you to minimise disease transmission at your registered healthcare facility. If a staff member has become unknowingly infected with Coronavirus, a lateral flow test is likely to reveal this, meaning that you can send them home to isolate and avoid the risk of them spreading the virus to surfaces and other people.

Another huge benefit of introducing lateral flow tests is the peace of mind that this system gives. While it’s still important to ensure other safety measures such as the wearing of masks and regular infection control procedures continue to be observed, lateral flow tests act as an extra line of defence, giving you a better chance of preventing an outbreak in your place of business and potentially saving lives.

As more data has emerged from the use of lateral flow tests, it’s become clear that this method of testing is extremely accurate. In fact, the government now suggests that these tests are accurate 99.9% of the time, meaning that there will only be the likelihood of one false positive for every 1,000 tests performed.[iii] Therefore, they are a reliable step for registered healthcare facilities that want to protect their staff and anyone who enters the premises.

Introducing lateral flow testing to your work

Perhaps the first consideration to make when choosing to lateral flow test your staff is what impact this will have on time. There are two options here – you can either supply staff with tests to use at home, or you can test them when they arrive for work. If the latter option, you need to factor in this time into your daily schedules, meaning that staff will inevitably have to come in earlier to ensure they have their result before the day of work begins.

You also need to think about how often testing should take place. At the time of writing, staff at primary, secondary and nursery school settings are being urged to use home tests twice a week. If you implement this measure in your own registered healthcare facility, you need to set the days that you want people to be tested and work this around their schedules – if someone only works two days a week, for example, it may not be necessary for them to test twice depending on whether these two days are consecutive or not. Discuss this with your team and ensure that everyone knows which days they need to home test, or be tested at work so that everyone is on the same page.

Another aspect of lateral flow testing that you must consider is how to properly dispose of the waste created from these testing kits.

Current guidance states that the outer packaging of the test can be disposed of in black mixed municipal waste. Any PPE used during the test such as gloves and masks should be regarded as orange clinical waste. However, the swab, vial and tissue are considered chemical waste – this means they need to be disposed of in a clear bag and collected by a specialist waste management service.[iv]

Initial Medical is one of the only waste management experts in the UK with the additional capacity available to collect and dispose of chemical waste from lateral flow tests properly. By contacting the team, you can arrange a collection service to suit you and your business.

Added defence 

At the end of the day, lateral flow testing is a reliable way to help ensure that the people inside your registered healthcare facility remain safe. As long as you work with your staff to introduce this measure and have a reliable way to safely dispose of the waste generated by the kits, you can enjoy the extra peace of mind that lateral flow testing provides.

 

For further information please visit www.initial.co.uk/medical or Tel: 0870 850 4045

 

Author: Rebecca Waters, Category Manager, Initial Medical

Rebecca has worked in the Healthcare sector for the past 17years and was a Research Chemist with Bayer Cropscience prior to joining Rentokil Initial in 2003.  She keeps up to date on all developments within the clinical waste management industry and is an active member of the CIWM, SMDSA and BDIA.  

 

-Ends-

 

About Initial Medical Waste Experts

Initial Medical is an expert in healthcare waste management, providing a complete collection, disposal and recycling service for hazardous and non-hazardous waste and offensive waste produced by businesses and organisations within the UK.

The safe management of healthcare waste is vital to ensure your activities are not a risk to human health.  Initial Medical’s healthcare waste services ensure that all of your waste is stringently handled in compliance with legislation and in accordance with Safe Management of Healthcare Waste best practice guidelines, providing you with the peace of mind that you are adhering to current legislation.

For further information please visit www.initial.co.uk/medical or Tel: 0870 850 4045

Media enquiries:

For more information, please contact:

erica@ekcommunications.net

01227 265700

 

 

[i] Gov.uk. Understanding Lateral Flow Antigen Testing For People Without Symptoms. Link: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/understanding-lateral-flow-antigen-testing-for-people-without-symptoms [Last accessed March 21].

[ii] Gov.uk. Public Health Matters. Lateral Flow Testing – Rapid Tests to Detect Covid-19. Link: https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2020/12/08/lateral-flow-testing-new-rapid-tests-to-detect-covid-19/ [Last accessed March 21].

[iii] Gov.uk. Public Health Matters. Lateral Flow Testing – Rapid Tests to Detect Covid-19. Link: https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2020/12/08/lateral-flow-testing-new-rapid-tests-to-detect-covid-19/ [Last accessed March 21].

[iv] BDJ. Essential Waste Disposal for Used Lateral Flow Testing Kits. Link: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41415-021-2703-y?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=initial+medical+uk&utm_term=&utm_content=&utm_campaign=98f7d7db-a150-494d-870e-3ea6f756a1f3 [Last accessed March 21].


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