Point-of-care testing (POCT), or bedside testing is defined as medical diagnostic testing at or near the point of care—that is, at the time and place of patient care.
POCT includes: blood glucose testing, blood gas and electrolytes analysis, rapid coagulation testing, rapid cardiac markers diagnostics, drugs of abuse screening, urine strips testing, pregnancy testing, fecal occult blood analysis, food pathogens screening, hemoglobin diagnostics, infectious disease testing and cholesterol screening.
POCT is often accomplished through the use of transportable, portable, and handheld instruments (e.g., blood glucose meter, nerve conduction study device) and test kits (e.g., CRP, HBA1C, Homocystein, HIV salivary assay, etc.). Small bench analyzers or fixed equipment can also be used when a handheld device is not available—the goal is to collect the specimen and obtain the results in a very short period of time at or near the location of the patient so that the treatment plan can be adjusted as necessary before the patient leaves.
Many point-of-care test systems are realized as easy-to-use membrane-based test strips, often enclosed by a plastic test cassette. These tests require only a single drop of whole blood, urine or saliva, and they can be performed and interpreted by any general physician within minutes.