Alliance for Pandemic Preparedness

April 29, 2021

Complications of COVID-19 Nasopharyngeal Swab Test



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  • Complications requiring emergency department treatment from nasopharyngeal swab sampling for SARS-CoV-2 PCR tests occurred in 1.24 per 100,000 tests during a 7-month period in Helsinki University Hospital, Finland. Out of over 640,000 PCR tests performed, 8 complication-related visits were identified in patients presenting to the emergency department (4 nasal bleeds, of which half were potentially life threatening, and 4 broken swabs). All complications seem to have involved an incorrect sampling technique.

Koskinen et al. (Apr 29, 2021). Complications of COVID-19 Nasopharyngeal Swab Test. JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery.