College of American Pathologists

  Point of Care Testing




Policy Synopsis

Point of care testing (POCT) is defined as laboratory testing that takes place at or near the site where the patient is located. In order for a POCT program to provide quality patient care, it must be developed by all stakeholders, with guidance and leadership from pathologists, and consider cost-benefit analysis and appropriate technology. The application of new non-traditional technologies also should conform to these principles. Even for simple methods performed outside of the central laboratory, the expertise of pathologists and other laboratory professionals is essential for quality patient care.


Point of Care Testing (POCT) is any type of laboratory testing that takes place at or near where the patient is located. The College of American Pathologists (CAP) recognizes that POCT is an integral part of laboratory medicine and certain basic principles must apply:

  • Quality of patient care and patient safety are the highest priorities. Therefore, POCT must meet the accreditation standards of the College of American Pathologists, or other accrediting agencies recognized by the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • POCT should be under the supervision of the laboratory director to ensure quality of the testing and appropriate training of testing personnel. Development of these programs should actively involve all participants for either in-hospital or offsite testing, and should include laboratory staff, nursing, medical staff, administration, and other health care professionals.
  • Efforts should be made to quantify and compare all costs and benefits associated with POCT and other testing modalities. Gathering of such data will allow optimal decision making regarding testing strategies.
  • New technologies for testing non-traditional specimens or non-invasive measurements are likely to have growing application in point-of-care settings. In the interest of quality patient care, the application of new testing technologies should conform to the points listed above.
  • Interoperability should be developed or expanded for existing and new POCT technologies to provide better oversight and incorporation of results into the electronic medical record.

Revision History

Adopted November 1993
Revised February 1997
Retitled May 1999
Revised May 1999
Revised November 1999
Revised March 2010
Reaffirmed September 2013