Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now say they expect the novel coronavirus from China to begin community transmission throughout the United States soon. The virus, which can cause a respiratory disease known as COVID-19, is believed to be spread through respiratory droplets between close contacts. That means there are certain steps practices should take to contain it, based on past infectious disease outbreaks.
1. Designate a “point person” to monitor updates from the CDC and state and local health agencies.
2. Ask patients with fever, cough, myalgias, or shortness of breath if they have recently traveled to countries experiencing coronavirus outbreaks or been in contact with others who have COVID-19.
3. Separate sick patients from well patients in the office.
4. Emphasize proper cough coverage with educational posters and pamphlets.
5. Wash hands on the way in and out of each exam.
6. Make sure staff get all recommended vaccinations and encourage patients to do the same, although there is not currently a vaccine for coronavirus.
The AAFP has more tips and resources available here: https://www.aafp.org/patient-care/emergency/2019-coronavirus.html.
The CDC website also has a COVID-19 page with information for health care professionals: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/hcp/index.html.
Read the full FPM article: “Preparing Your Office for an Infectious Disease Epidemic.”
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