ST. TAMMANY PARISH, La. — A doctor on the Northshore treating COVID-19 patients is sounding an alarm.
Dr. Devan Sczcepanski says coronavirus tests are taking too long. So long, that one of her patients died waiting 10 days for the results.
Sczcepanski, President of the St. Tammany Parish Medical Society, says that positive result could have changed the way that patient was treated, possibly saving his life.
“I am on a mission to make sure that Louisiana -- our people -- get tests that are resulted in a timely fashion and that we have access to any information that could help us take care of our patients right now,” she said. “It’s paramount to have a result to a test to be able to let that kind of guide you in helping you make decisions that are very hard right now.”
Sczcepanski says there is no clear way to treat COVID-19 right now and doctors would have approached the case differently if they’d know the patient had the virus.
“Maybe we would have sent him back to the ER faster. Maybe he would have been put in ICU quicker,” she said. “I'm not sure. Maybe we would have used medications off label and felt more comfortable about that idea because we would have had a test to support those decisions.”
There is some good news on that front locally, Ochsner announced that they can process the coronavirus test in house, rather than sending the samples off for testing elsewhere. This could cut down the timeframe for test results to 24 hours.