Nasopharyngeal (NP) swab collection:
- Tip the patient’s head back.
- Gently insert the NP swab into the nostril parallel to the palate (not upwards) until resistance is encountered or the distance is equivalent to that from the ear to the nostril of the patient, indicating contact with the nasopharynx.
- If any resistance is met in the passageways, do not force the swab; back off and try reinserting it at a different angle, closer to the floor of the nasal canal, or try the other nostril.
- Gently rub and roll the swab for 10-15 seconds while the swab is in contact with the nasopharyngeal wall.
- The CDC recommends leaving the swab in place for several seconds to absorb secretions.
- Slowly remove the swab and place in the transport medium.
- Break the swab shaft so that it fits into the medium container and recap tightly.
- Label the specimen appropriately. Document the source “NP” on the label.
New England Journal of Medicine video on NP swab collection: Nasopharyngeal Swab Collection Video