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Starting tomorrow, Monday, April 13UW Medicine is implementing a policy of screening all inpatients for COVID-19 at the time of admission, including those presenting without any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 infection. This has been piloted at UW Medical Center – Northwest and is now being implemented at UW Medical Center – Montlake and Harborview Medical Center as well. Asymptomatic patients who have a screening test pending for surveillance purposes do not require any isolation precautions (unless isolation is required for some other condition) while the test is pending. As before, any patient with clinical suspicion for COVID-19 should be placed in the appropriate precautions while the test result is pending.

To support this policy, we are now requiring that an indication for COVID-19 testing be entered whenever the test is ordered. This will help staff in the hospital understand which patients should/should not be in isolation while the test is pending. It will also facilitate infection control teams tracking these different patient populations across UW Medicine. The test indication will be listed alongside the test result when it is pending and resulted.

For Harborview Medical Center and UW Medical Center – Montlake:
(Separate instructions will be provided for UW Medical Center – Northwest )

  • Instructions for ED Providers: Continue your usual process of assessing for symptoms of COVID-19 and placing patients in appropriate precautions and performing testing if there is any clinical suspicion. If pre-procedural screening for COVID-19 is required for patients, proceed with that process as well.
  • Instructions for Inpatient Providers: Please place an order for COVID-19 testing for all patients being admitted to the hospital who have not been screened for COVID-19 in the prior 72 hours. The test will now require you to select an indication. For asymptomatic patients undergoing routine testing for admission, select “Admission Surveillance.”An ORCA build is underway that will prompt you to complete a COVID-19 order in any patient without a test within 72 hours of being admitted to the hospital. We expect this prompt to go-live in a few days.
  • For Nursing: Aside from the collection of NP swabs (performed in droplet/contact precautions), patients undergoing routine surveillance testing for COVID-19 will remain in standard precautions as is done for MRSA surveillance testing. In order to enhance transparency of the test indication, ORCA will now be requiring an indication field. If your patient has a COVID-19 result pending, scroll down to the test and the indication will be visible.

For additional information, please review the COVID-19 Surveillance Testing Guidelines.


The UW Infection Prevention & Control Teams