Understanding your COVID-19 Lab Results
When you visit a Physicians Immediate Care clinic for a COVID-19 test, you get more than just test results. You receive a diagnosis, treatment, advice, and follow-up care from our talented team of healthcare providers. We provide the care and expert advice you need to understand your results and protect yourself and others from illness.
After you get your COVID test, you will need to take important steps, depending on your results. Here’s what to expect when you receive your COVID-19 test results.
Negative COVID-19 Test Results
If you get a negative result, this means you likely do not have COVID-19. You will be advised by your healthcare provider on your next steps. The actions you should take depend on whether or not you have symptoms and whether you were exposed to someone who has COVID-19.
Possibility of Test Error
Every medical test contains some amount of error. For this reason, you should always take precautions like social distancing, wearing a mask, and washing your hands, even if you test negative for the virus.
You are considered exposed to COVID-19 if you were within 6 feet of an infected person for 15 minutes or longer over a 24-hour period. This applies even if one or both of you were wearing masks.
✘No Known Exposure
Even if you have no symptoms and have not knowingly been in contact with anyone who has COVID-19, there is still a possibility of having the virus. False-negative test results (where the test indicates you don’t have COVID-19 but you really do) are most frequent when a patient does not have symptoms.
If you receive this test result, please continue to wear a mask, practice social distancing, monitor yourself for symptoms, and follow all other public health recommendations.
If you have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, you may or may not develop an infection.
In the case that you have been exposed, we recommend that you self-quarantine for 14 days since your exposure. Some employers may have different policies surrounding your return to work. If you must return to work, please take every precaution you can to limit your contact with other people.
If you are asymptomatic at the time of your test but develop COVID-19 symptoms, later on, you can return to a Physicians Immediate Care clinic for repeat COVID-19 testing.
✔ Symptoms Present
✘✔ With or Without Exposure
COVID-19 is the easiest to detect when you have symptoms. Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, headache, congestion, runny nose, nausea, vomiting, chills, diarrhea, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, and body aches. While there is always a small possibility of test error, if you have any of these symptoms and test negative for COVID-19, your symptoms are likely being caused by another pathogen.
At Physicians Immediate Care, our goal is to support your health. If you test negative for COVID-19 when you have symptoms, your illness is likely due to other viruses or bacteria. At your appointment, your healthcare provider will provide a full exam, diagnosis, and treatment for your symptoms.
If your symptoms start getting worse or have been present for at least 7 days and are not improving please return to our clinic for further evaluation and treatment.
If you experience significant shortness of breath or chest pain, you should visit a hospital immediately.
Testing negative for COVID-19 does not mean you should stop taking precautions against the virus. In addition to the chance for test error, you could be exposed to COVID-19 at any point after the test.
If you have symptoms, we recommend that you self-isolate until 24 hours after your fever (if you have one) disappears without the use of fever-reducing medications, and after other symptoms have improved.
Your employer may have different requirements. Ask your employer about their return-to-work policy for staff taking a COVID-19 test.
Positive COVID-19 Test Results
A positive COVID-19 test means you have been infected with COVID-19. You must take care of your health and self-isolate to avoid spreading the virus to others.
At your appointment, your Physicians Immediate Care provider will check if you have any additional infections that could cause complications. Your physician will give you advice and, where possible, treatment for all illnesses found.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you should isolate yourself at home for 10 days from the time your symptoms started. If you do not develop any symptoms, isolate for 10 days from the date the positive test was performed.
You will receive detailed home care guidelines from your healthcare provider. Continue to monitor your symptoms, and visit an emergency room if you have significant shortness of breath or chest pain.
COVID-19 Telehealth Visit
We believe in helping our patients navigate every aspect of an illness. If you test positive for COVID-19, you may receive a follow-up Telehealth visit from one of our healthcare providers to check on your symptoms and answer any questions you may have. Your Telehealth provider can also determine when a return to work note can be given.
Therapeutics for COVID-19
We do have the option of providing recommendations for over the counter therapeutics as well as some prescription options that have shown some promise in treating the symptoms of COVID-19. In some locations, we can also refer high-risk patients for infusion therapy that reduces the risk of hospitalization due to COVID-19.
Home Care for COVID-19
If your test indicates that you have COVID-19, your healthcare provider will advise you on how to take care of yourself and others at home. You will be expected to self-isolate until 10 days have passed after the onset of symptoms. If you do not develop symptoms, you should isolate until 10 days after the test date.
During this time, there are several important actions you should take.
Stay home, except to get medical care. Eliminate contact with others outside your household. If you must leave to seek medical help, call ahead to inform the healthcare facility that you tested positive for COVID-19.
Isolate yourself from others in your home. It’s important to stay apart from members of your household, to avoid spreading the virus to them. Stay in a separate room away from other household members, and use a different washroom if possible.
Keep in touch with your healthcare team. If you have a general practitioner or family doctor, you should call to inform them of your diagnosis. The Physicians Immediate Care healthcare team will also keep in touch with you by phone or a Telehealth visit.
Monitor your symptoms. Monitor yourself for fever and other symptoms of COVID-19. Keep a record of when symptoms first started and when they improve.
Seek emergency help if needed. Call 911 if you have trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in your chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, or a bluish face or lips. Tell the operator if you tested positive for COVID-19 or think you might have it.
Wash your hands often. Use soap and water, and scrub your hands well for at least 20 seconds.
Cover your coughs and sneezes. Cough into your sleeve or a tissue. Dispose of tissues and wash your hands immediately.
Ask your doctor when you can stop home isolation. The decision to stop home isolation should be made together with your healthcare provider, and must obey all state and local health department rules. In most cases, you can stop self-isolating at home when all three of the following conditions are met:
- You have had no fever for at least 72 hours, without the use of fever-reducing medications
- Other symptoms, such as coughing or shortness of breath, have improved
- At least 10 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared – or if you are asymptomatic, at least 10 days have passed since you took your positive COVID-19 test
Get Your COVID-19 Test
If you think you might have COVID-19, Physicians Immediate Care is here to help. We provide the quality medical care you need to protect yourself and your loved ones. Reserve your time at a clinic near you to receive your COVID-19 test and medical consultation.