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Patients’ perceptions of nasopharyngeal aspiration in the emergency department of a teaching hospital in Hong Kong
  1. A K C Wai,
  2. W O Kwok,
  3. M S Chan,
  4. C A Graham,
  5. T H Rainer
  1. Accident & Emergency Medicine Academic Unit, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr C A Graham
 Accident & Emergency Medicine Academic Unit, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong, SAR; cagraham{at}


Nasopharyngeal aspiration (NPA) is the preferred method for collecting specimens for viral culture in patients with respiratory tract infection. As virus identification may influence admission and treatment decisions, it is important to perform NPA in the emergency department. The test may be uncomfortable and poorly tolerated. This prospective study investigated patients’ perceptions of NPA. Patients in the emergency department with upper respiratory tract infection undergoing NPA between 9 March 2005 and 12 August 2005 were included. 86 patients (mean (SD) age 47 (23) years; 49 women) were recruited. 22 (26%) patients complained that NPA was very uncomfortable, 59 (69%) reported that it was mildly uncomfortable and 5 (6%) patients reported no discomfort. On a 10-point scale, the median discomfort score was 4. 29 (34%) patients stated that NPA was more uncomfortable than blood taking, 19 (22%) patients felt that both were similar and 38 (44%) patients felt that NPA was less uncomfortable (p value not significant). NPA performed in the emergency department is well tolerated and should be considered in emergency departments when results may influence patient management.

  • NPA, nasopharyngeal aspiration

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  • Funding: None.

  • Competing interests: None.

  • Ethical approval: Ethical approval was granted by the CUHK/PWH Clinical Research Ethics Committee.

    Contributors: AKCW was involved in the study design, and in analysing the results and drafting the paper; WOK and MSC were involved in study design, data collection, data analysis and drafting the paper; CAG and THR designed the study, assisted with data collection, analysed the data and edited the paper. THR is the guarantor.