Please help us emphasize the importance of pre-operative COVID-19 testing with patients and families.

We are experiencing some instances of families refusing COVID-19 testing that is required within 72 hours of their surgery or procedure at Seattle Children’s. This has resulted in canceled surgeries and unused surgical blocks. Families who have refused testing have generally done so because they face logistical hurdles in getting to a testing site or they believe COVID-19 is not real.

While refusals are a small percentage of our overall testing requests, we want every child to get the care they need when they need it without delay. We are also committed to the safety of our workforce.

Our pre-operative testing requirement: We require screening for all pre-operative patients within 72 hours of their appointment, either at Seattle Children’s or another facility. This includes patients having a procedure in an operating room and those who need anesthesia in Radiology.

Results from external facilities should be faxed to the Seattle Children’s Pre-Anesthesia COVID-19 Testing Line at 206-985-3393 by 5 p.m. the day before procedure.


COVID-19 FAQs for referring providers (includes guidance on when to test and what to do if a test cannot be obtained in time).


Access to COVID-19 testing at Seattle Children’s: We provide testing at our Sand Point Learning Center (drive-through, Monday through Saturday) and Urgent Care locations (every day). Patients can call 206-987-2100 to schedule a test, once their doctor has placed the order. Perioperative Services works with families traveling from further away to help coordinate early arrival to the Seattle area to allow testing.

We recognize that some patients were unable to get same-day testing when they called after 5 p.m. or on a Sunday, even though our testing sites were open, because the scheduling line was closed.  We have fixed this problem; families calling after-hours or on Sundays are now instructed to press 0 to reach Urgent Care for same-day scheduling.

Why pre-operative testing is so important: A recent study by 3 hospitals including Seattle Children’s showed the essential safety benefits of pre-operative testing, finding that half of children who tested positive for COVID-19 had no symptoms and the most common symptoms in the other half were fever and a runny nose.

Seattle Children’s Dr. Todd Blumberg, an orthopedic surgeon and member of the study team, notes:  “When an asymptomatic patient that is undergoing an elective surgery tests positive, we can postpone the procedure. For urgent or time-sensitive cases where surgery cannot wait, having the COVID-19 test result pre-operatively allows for better utilization of appropriate personal protective equipment to prevent that patient from inadvertently spreading COVID-19 to hospital staff and others they may come in contact with.”


COVID-19 Testing Results at Seattle Children’s:  As of July 6, Seattle Children’s had tested 6,579 patients of which 70 patients tested positive and 11 inconclusive, for an overall positivity rate of 1.2%, a rate which has remained stable over the last several months.

Please reinforce the importance of pre-operative COVID-19 testing with patients and families. Thank you for your partnership.