A nasopharyngeal swab (NPS) is currently the best practice method for testing for COVID-19 in Canada. Incorrect NPS swabbing can cause falsely negative results and put the client at risk for potential nasal trauma. It is essential for all persons performing swabs to ensure their individual competency. The following package is intended to support the reader in self-assessment of COVID-19 NPS swabbing competency, identify learning gaps, and providing educational resources.
Who can perform an NPS is dependent on provincial regulations as well as local policies and procedures. All healthcare providers must be aware of these prior to commencing any NPS testing for COVID-19.
All Solutions Staffing employees are required to follow local policies, procedures, and guidelines for COVID-19 testing.
*Please note this is a general guideline based on the BCCDC recommendations for swabbing for COVID-19 and is meant to provide educational background. All healthcare providers are expected to consult local policies and procedures prior to commencing any NPS*. Please see video and instructional diagram below.
- Obtain order (if required), lab requisition, lab supplies (NPS swab, biohazard bag), ensure patient label is on lab req and second available for NPS swab
- Don PPE as per local guidelines. Click here for BCCDC procedure.
- Ensure there is hand hygiene supplies and a box of tissues at the bedside
- Ensure right patient by confirming at least 2 identifiers on the lab req with the patient
- Obtain consent and explain the procedure – this is an uncomfortable procedure
- Have the patient blow their nose to prevent mucus obstruction
- Have the client select which nostril is less blocked or free of blockage as this will be the nostril to use
- Have the patient tilt their head back at a 70 degree angle, support the back of their head, and insert the NPS swab until you feel resistance
- Turn the swab side to side for 10-15 seconds (ensure you time this), then carefully withdraw and place the swab inside the accompanying tube (you will have to crack off
the top of the swab and discard it, do this carefully without contaminating the swab or splashing the fluid)
- Label the specimen along with any required additional labelling
- Provide patient with any further health teaching or educational resources such as where to obtain results and self-isolation information as per provincial policy
- Doff PPE as per local guidelines. Click here for BCCDC procedure.
- Check local facility for lab packaging and processing
- Document procedure in patient chart as per local policy
- Follow up with lab results as per local policy
BCCDC. (2020). Viral Testing. Retrieved August 12, 2020 from: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-professionals/clinical-resources/covid-19-care/covid-19-
Providence Health Care. (2013). Influenza-Like Illness (ILI) – Specimen Collection: Nasopharyngeal Swabs (NPS). Vancouver, British Columbia. http://shop.healthcarebc.ca/phc/PHCDSTs/B-00-07-13017.pdf