Physician tips for coronavirus (COVID-19)

 

In February 2020, a family physician provided early information on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. She offered tips to help other family physicians answer patient questions, conduct screening protocols and recognize potential cases. 

Takeaways for Family Physicians

Video and summary posted on Feb. 5, 2020

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

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

If a patient has been in close contact with a confirmed case and presents with a cough or cold symptoms, or respiratory symptoms, they should be a patient under investigation.

Screening protocols: Implement questions that ask about travel or contact with anyone confirmed to have COVID-19. If the answer is yes, they should be a patient under investigation.

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

These patients should be hospitalized and monitored for symptoms while waiting for testing confirmation. They 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. Unless they meet guidelines, they likely don't have the virus. Caution patients against traveling to affected countries in the near future and verify they have received a flu shot.