Point-of-care testing (POCT) devices can be used to both screen for dyslipidaemia and to monitor lipid levels of patients currently being treated for elevated cholesterol. This study aims to examine the precision of a POCT device when used in a primary care setting. Health screens were offered to all staff members of University College Cork, Ireland. Capillary whole blood samples were taken from two digits of each participant to assess the lipid profile using the POCT device. The relationship between both results was investigated using Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient, paired sample t-tests and Kappa measures of agreement. In the second part of the study a volunteer provided ten consecutive capillary whole blood samples. These results were used to calculate the co-efficient of variation of the device. Data were collected from 55 participants, 25(45%) of whom were male. The mean age of the study population was 44.5 +/- 10.1 years. There were statistically significant differences recorded between the results for TC, TG and LDL-C. Coefficients of variation for TG and LDL-C were calculated at 7.51 and 7.71%, respectively. There is a degree of variability associated with the precision of POCT device; measurement error is a problem associated with cholesterol testing.
Practical applications: Point-of-care testing devices are widely used to measure cholesterol levels. They are convenient for patients because only a small amount of blood is required, reducing discomfort. They also have the advantage of providing results quickly, at a location convenient and easily accessible to the patient. It is important that a POCT device being used for the purposes of screening and monitoring is both accurate and precise. This study aimed to examine the precision of a POCT device when used in a primary care setting. The results of this study are consistent with other studies that indicate that measurement error is a problem associated with cholesterol testing. If POCT devices are being used for screening or monitoring purposes then it is necessary to carefully calibrate the device in order to eliminate as much error as possible. Multiple readings should be performed using the same device to identify any potential outlier results.