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Containing the Spread of COVID-19 (CMS Guidelines)

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released guidelines for infection control and prevention on March 4, 2020. The guidelines applied to hospitals, but this article will provide a summary of the information that non-hospital physicians may wish to know. The complete guidelines can be found here

CMS recommended that hospitals identify patients and visitors at risk for having COVID-19 before arrival (or, at the latest, upon arrival). Hospitals should inquire about the following:

  • Fever

  • Respiratory symptoms (e.g. cough or sore throat)

  • International travel within last 14 days

  • Contact with someone confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19

CMS recommended that hospitals take the following precautions with patients suspected to have COVID-19:

  • Provide with face covering (mask)

  • Isolate the patient in a closed-door exam room

  • Avoid interaction with other patients

  • If a patient is medically stable, hospitals may consider allowing the patient to wait in his car until he could be examined

  • Inform local and state public health authorities

  • Make hygiene essentials available to the patient (95% alcohol-based hand sanitizer (ABHS), tissues, no-touch receptacles, etc.)

Hospital personnel should take the additional precautions when treating confirmed/suspected COVID-19 patients.

  • Wearing the appropriate PPE

  • Limiting personnel to those that are essential

  • Cleaning and disinfecting rooms in accordance with environmental infection control guidelines

Visitation and discharge policies are ever-changing. Physicians should inquire with local hospitals to receive information on their latest guidance. Physicians should inform their suspected COVID-19 patients about these procedures.

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