Can a Rapid Test Give a False Positive Result?

12 February, 2024

Q: My patient is asymptomatic and has no known exposures but returned a positive COVID-19 rapid antigen test. Could it be a false positive?

A: In general, a positive COVID-19 test means the patient has or recently had a COVID-19 infection (CDC, 2023). At-home false-positive tests for COVID-19 are uncommon. If the patient or provider wants to confirm an at-home test result, a PCR test can be considered to confirm infection. Keep in mind, asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19 continues to be an important part of transmission dynamics in pediatric and adult populations (Frutos, June 2023).

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