Quest Diagnostics approved for technique to speed up testing process

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Many people have experienced longer wait times with coronavirus test results now that more testing has become available, but a clinical lab company has gotten approved for a technique that may make the testing process faster.

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Quest Diagnostics will now test using the technique called "pooling."

The company said specimens will continue to be collected in individual vials, but they will now be combined into small batches and tested together.

If the pool comes back negative, then everyone's specimen was negative. If there's a positive result, then Quest said they will go back and test them individually.

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They said priority patients, like people in the hospital or people with symptoms, will still get their lab results back in a day. For others, it will take at least seven days.

Dallas County rejected the federal government's offer to extend funding for a drive-up community test site because it was taking eight to 10 days to get test results.

Similar wait times are being experienced in Harris County.

"They were taking way too long to get the results back," said Dr. Ethan Tran, a medical director at Frontline Emergency Room. "A lot of things can happen in 14 days. If you have a positive test, you need to know right away, you can't just wait 14 days."

Quest representatives said they plan to implement the new technique in two of their labs by the end of next week.

While they said it will speed up testing, they also said testing will continue to be strained as the number of cases increase.

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