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:
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.