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Recommendations for Outpatient Specimen Collection Sites During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Communication Date: July, 2020
NOTE: The information below was current at the time of communication. Subsequent CAP changes, if applicable, are not reflected in this eAlert.

The CAP has received numerous complaints from patients with infection control concerns at outpatient specimen collection sites during the COVID-19 health care emergency relating to:

  • Inadequate screening of patients entering facilities
  • Lack of social distancing and
  • Individuals not wearing face masks or face coverings

We are sharing the current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help your facility ensure that it has appropriate practices in place to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 and provide safer patient care.

CDC recommendations for outpatient facilities and ambulatory care practices:

  • Place visual alerts, such as signs and posters in appropriate languages, at entrances and in strategic places providing instructions on hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, including the use of cloth face coverings, and cough etiquette.
  • Set up waiting rooms to allow patients to be at least 6 feet apart. If your facility does not have a waiting area, then use partitions or signs to create designated areas or waiting lines.
  • Reduce crowding in waiting areas by asking patients to remain outside (eg, stay in their vehicles or in a designated outdoor waiting area), if feasible, until they are called into the facility.

Additional CDC recommendations for infection prevention and control to prevent COVID-19 transmission by symptomatic and asymptomatic persons entering a health care facility:

  • Use source control measures including:
    • Cloth face coverings (face mask). If a visitor or patient arrives at the facility without a face covering, a face mask should be provided if supplies are available.
    • Hand hygiene by providing alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60-95% alcohol at facility entrances, waiting rooms, and check-in areas.
  • Encourage physical distancing by limiting visitors to the facility to those essential to the patient’s physical or emotional well-being and care.
  • Encourage use of alternative mechanisms for patient and visitor interactions (eg, video call on cell phone).
  • Schedule appointments to limit the numbers of patients in waiting rooms.
  • Limit and monitor points of entry to the facility.
  • Consider establishing screening stations outside the facility to screen individuals before they enter.
  • Screen everyone entering for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 or exposure to others with COVID-19 infection and ensure that they are practicing source control.
    • Actively take their temperature and document absence of symptoms.
    • Ask if they have been advised to self-quarantine due to exposure.
    • Properly manage anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 or who have been advised to self-quarantine.

Health care facilities must consider the local level of COVID-19 transmission and any state or local regulations when making decisions about providing services and infection prevention and control measures needed.

You can find more information at the following links: