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A qualitative real-time polymerase chain reaction of nasopharyngeal secretions is the criterion standard for identifying respiratory viruses, including severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).1 However, major concerns have been raised regarding the rates of false-negative results in community testing locations.2 In an early retrospective review of community hospital testing in China, a sensitivity of only 71% was reported.3 Although there are many sources of false-negative results—including laboratory errors, patient misidentification, and inadequate collection of secretions—improper technique resulting in swabs not reaching the target site of the nasopharynx is a pervasive but modifiable error.
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Corresponding Author: Thomas S. Higgins, MD, MSPH, Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery and Communicative Disorders, University of Louisville School of Medicine, 6420 Dutchmans Pkwy, Ste 380, Louisville, KY 40205 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Published Online: September 17, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2020.2946
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Higgins reported being a paid research investigator for Optinose and Gossamer and receiving personal fees from Sanofi-Regeneron and Genentech outside the submitted work. Dr Wu reported receiving payment for positions as a speaker for Sanofi-Regeneron and Optinose, a member of a medical advisory board for Optinose and Gossamer, and an investigator for Gossamer outside the submitted work. No other disclosures were reported.
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