Nasopharyngeal Swab

Precautions

  • NP swabs are performed using droplet and contact precautions. Do not require an N95 respirator.

  • Change gloves and perform hand hygiene between each patient.

What Does It Look Like?

NP Swab

Specimen Collection

Step 1

  • Check the expiry date of the swab. Swabs do not need to be refrigerated prior to use. Use the swab supplied with the viral transport media.

  • Explain the procedure to the patient.

  • If the patient has a lot of mucus in the nose, this can interfere with the collection of cells. Either ask the patient to use a tissue to gently clean out visible nasal mucus or clean the nostril yourself with a cotton swab (e.g. Q-Tip).

  • Prior to insertion, measure the distance from the corner of the nose to the front of the ear and insert the shaft approximately 2/3 of this length

Step 2

  • Seat the patient comfortably. Tilt the patient’s head back slightly.

  • Insert the swab provided along the medial part of the septum, along the floor of the nose, until it reaches the posterior nares; gentle rotation of the swab may be helpful.

    • If resistance is encountered, try the other nostril. Do NOT force.
  • Do not aim the swab upwards; the direction of insertion should be parallel to the palate.

  • Allow the swab to sit in place for 5-10 seconds

  • Rotate the swab several times

  • Insertion of the swab usually induces a cough

Step 3 Remove swab and place into the collection tube. Break the shaft of the swab at the break point if required. Secure the cap tightly.

  • Refrigerate immediately. Remove gloves and perform hand hygiene.

NP Specimen Collection

Label

MAKE SURE THE SPECIMEN LABEL INCLUDES

  • Patient’s legal name and date of birth

  • Patient’s Health Card Number or another unique identifier (as determined by healthcare provider)

MAKE SURE THE REQUISITION FORM INCLUDES:

  • Patient’s legal name and date of birth

  • Patient’s Health Card Number or another unique identifier (as determined by healthcare provider)

  • Date and time of collection

  • Physicians full name, address and physician registration number

DELIVER THE SPECIMEN

  • Delivery of sample(s) to the regional laboratory should occur within 4 hours from time of collection.

    • If transportation is delayed beyond 4 hours, the specimens should be refrigerated and transported to the laboratory using a cooler with ice packs.
  • Transport logistics needs to be maximized to ensure that specimens are received by the QEII laboratory within 24 hours.

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