Concerns over getting a doctor’s order for coronavirus testing

Reporter: Lauren Sweeney

Providers now have the discretion to order a test to patients who they feel should be tested for coronavirus (COVID-19), but some say they are having a difficult time getting an order for a test.

“I’m like shocked I find it unbelievable,” said a Lee Health nurse who wanted to be called “Mary” for anonymity.

She said she has cold-like symptoms and a low-grade fever. She called WINK News to complain that she was not given an order for a COVID-19 test after testing negative for influenza type a and b.

She said during screening she was asked if she was exposed to anyone with the virus and said probably not, but she just didn’t know.

Mary said she was asked to stay home and self-monitor and return to employee health services if her symptoms persisted or worsened.

A Lee Health spokesperson said by email that they are following CDC protocols for healthcare workers potentially exposed to the virus.

“I am sure you understand that we need to test those who are at highest risk and that it does not make sense to test everyone who has symptoms of a cold,” wrote Mary Briggs.

She continued, “We would NEVER put the health of our patients or our staff at risk.”

The CDC guidelines consider the healthcare workers who’ve had prolonged contact with COVID-19 patients and not wearing protective gear to be high risk.

“Mary” is not the only person concerned about access to testing who has contacted WINK News.

Emails from regular people, who are not healthcare workers, have been coming in over the past few days.

They express similar concerns: that they are not able to get a doctor’s order for a test despite their fevers and flu-like symptoms.

WINK News asked Khristine Hollingsworth with the Collier County Health Department if she understood why there was concern about community spread.

“Absolutely,” said Hollingsworth, “We believe there is concern. We understand there’s concern.”

But Hollingsworth’s pointed out that practitioners have guidance on who should be tested. It includes those who’ve traveled and those who’ve been exposed.

However, she emphasized that the newest guidance allows tests to be ordered at the doctor’s discretion.

“A healthcare provider can determine if they want their patient tested and that would be based on the clinician’s judgment,” she said.

Governor Ron Desantis in a press conference Tuesday emphasized that there is expanded testing guidance, beyond just those who’ve traveled.

“If you are elderly and have symptoms, regardless of where you’ve traveled, you are eligible for testing. If you are someone that has an uderlying medical condition, you are eligible for testing. If you are someone hospitalized with pneumonia you are eligible for testing,” said Governor DeSantis.

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