What should every NP know about novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?
With the emergence of novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, we wanted to share pertinent information about how to respond to patients with fever, cough, and shortness of breath. We will keep it short and simple. Here are some facts about the transmission of COVID-19: (1) It is novel because it is associated with animals and not the human coronaviruses that have been known for some time; (2) It can be transmitted through droplets which means it can spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks; (3) It is still unclear if it can be transmitted indirectly which would be spread from a contaminated object or person; (4) There are no vaccines or treatment at this time; (5) It is not limited to China, Italy and Iran; (6) There has been no mentioning of a COVID-19 point-of-care testing. As leaders, we should continue to follow standard precautions at all times. Standard precautions have a strong evidence-based and here is a limited list:
1. Perform hand hygiene before and after every patient contact.
2. Clean and reprocess shared patient equipment such as the pulse oximeter and your stethoscope.
3. Use personal protective equipment such as masks.
4. Follow respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette.We also encourage you to educate your team (administrative and clinical personnel) on how to address patients who present with an acute respiratory illness. Your team should be ready to provide facial masks to these patients then separate them from patients in the waiting area. This is the same droplet precaution that is taken with influenza. Be sure to educate your patients on why you are taking these measures and about their condition. Once released from practice, patients are encouraged to stay home until they are no longer infectious. Whereas, patients confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19 should be given a masked and place in an individual room for isolation if they are not in acute distress. Once released from practice, isolation should continue until they are no longer infectious. Thus far, no concrete period has been provided for isolation specific to COVID-19 because it has been determined on a case-by-case basis.
Is there an algorithm for providers to assist in decisions on COVID-19?The CDC has provided interim guidance for evaluating and reporting persons under investigation (PUI) for COVID-19. We like to emphasize special considerations should be made for infants, adults greater than or equal to 65 years old, and people with compromised immune systems may present differently. Also pay close attention to groups who have high risk of complications such as pregnant women, children, and adolescents.As we continue to serve on the frontlines, stay abreast with the symptoms of COVID-19 and guidelines of this outbreak by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. We have provided more links below.
Information for Healthcare Professionals: COVID-19
Healthcare Systems Preparedness for COVID-19 (Webinar)
World Health Organization (WHO) Coronavirus
How to prevent transmission of infections in your practice?