The Impact of COVID-19 on Laboratory Test Utilization at a Pediatric Medical Center

David Chia-Hsiang Lin, Isaac Parakati, Shannon Haymond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The epidemiology and clinical manifestation of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the pediatric population is different from the adult population. The purpose of this study is to identify effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on laboratory test utilization in a pediatric hospital. Methods: We performed retrospective analysis on test utilization data from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, an academic pediatric medical center. Data between two 100-day periods prior to (prepandemic) and during the pandemic (mid-pandemic) were analyzed to evaluate changes in test volume, lab utilization, and test positivity rate. We also evaluated these metrics based on in- vs outpatient testing and performed modeling to determine what variables significantly impact the test positivity rate. Results: During the pandemic period, there was an expected surge in COVID-19 testing, while over 84% of lab tests studied decreased in ordering volume. The average number of tests ordered per patient was not significantly different during the pandemic for any of the laboratories (adjusted P value>0.05). Thirty-three studied tests showed significant change in positivity rate during the pandemic. Linear modeling revealed test volume and inpatient status as the key variables associated with change in test positivity rate. Conclusions: Excluding severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 tests, the COVID-19 pandemic has generally led to decreased test ordering volume and laboratory utilization. However, at this pediatric hospital, the average number of tests performed per patient and test positivity rates were comparable between pre- and mid-pandemic periods. These results suggest that, overall, clinical test utilization at this site remained consistent during the pandemic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1076-1087
Number of pages12
JournalThe journal of applied laboratory medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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