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Friday Oct 02, 2020

A brief method for triaging patients during a pandemic

When the leaders of Eglin Family Medicine Residency Clinic in Florida opened an outdoor clinic in their parking lot in response to COVID-19, they established a triage process for deciding which patients would be sent there, as opposed to being seen virtually or inside the clinic. Other practices could replicate portions of this process, even if they don’t have a full outdoor clinic.

When a patient calls the clinic, the nurse determines the following:

Is the patient’s concern a) clearly non-infectious (e.g., medication refill, sprained ankle, or chronic condition management) or b) potentially infectious (e.g., upper respiratory symptoms or fever)?

A. If the patient’s concern is clearly non-infectious, can it be managed with a virtual visit?

• If yes, schedule a virtual visit.

• If no, perform a COVID-19 symptom screening.

- If negative, schedule an in-person visit inside the clinic.

- If positive, see below.

B. If the patient’s concern is potentially infectious or if the patient’s symptom screening is positive for COVID-19, schedule a visit in the outdoor clinic (or parking lot). Take the patient’s history over the phone to limit face-to-face contact during the outdoor visit.  

Using this method, Eglin conducted most visits virtually. When the clinic staff did see patients face-to-face, they were able to conserve personal protective gear and save time on surface cleaning because of the parking lot visits.

Read the full FPM article: “Building an Outdoor Urgent Care Clinic During a Pandemic: One Clinic’s Experience.”

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Posted at 11:45PM Oct 02, 2020 by FPM Editors

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