2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

Tips for educating your patients and preparing your practice teams

[MERS virus, Meadle-East Respiratory Syndrome coronovirus, MERS virus, Meadle-East Respiratory Syndrome coronovirus]

As more 2019 Novel Coronavirus cases are confirmed every day, patients may approach you with questions and concerns for their own health.

To support your practice as this situation evolves, the AAFP is sharing resources specifically for family physicians.  

Find tips to help you answer patient questions and reduce confusion, conduct screening protocols and recognize potential cases.

5 takeaways for family physicians

There are still unknowns: There has been confirmed human-to-human transmission with respiratory droplet transmission between close contacts. According to the CDC, risk is dependent on exposure. But experts are uncertain if there are other modes of transmission.

Identifying novel coronavirus: Symptoms(www.cdc.gov) are very similar to SARS, MERS and the flu. Patients present with cough, fever, myalgias and shortness of breath. Symptoms can range from very mild to very severe. 

CDC guidelines indicate if a patient has been in close contact with a confirmed case and presents with a cough or cold-type symptoms, or any type of respiratory symptoms, they would be considered a patient under investigation.

Screening protocols: Implement screening questions that ask about travel or contact with anyone confirmed to have the novel coronavirus. If the answer is yes, they should be a patient under investigation.

Patient under investigation process: A patient who meets guidelines(www.cdc.gov) should be immediately placed into a private room and providers should follow contact, respiratory and eye protection. Contact your normal chain of command to report a patient under investigation.

Any patient under investigation should be hospitalized, monitored for symptoms while waiting for testing confirmation. Coronavirus patients are at high risk for developing secondary conditions like respiratory failure or acute respiratory distress syndrome. Anyone who has more severe disease can decompensate quickly and should be offered early supportive therapy.

Reassure patients: Review the patient under investigation guidelines with patients who are concerned they may have the coronavirus. Confirm that unless they meet guidelines, they likely don't have the virus. Caution patients against traveling to China in the near future and verify they have received a flu shot. Flu activity remains high in the U.S.