Protecting Your Patients
Since recommendations from the CDC are fluid, it is best to contact their site or your state’s health department (Maryland and Virginia) on a regular basis. However, please find the following general tips that you can incorporate to assist your patients:
- For a PowerPoint on information about implementing mask policies in your practice, click here.
- For new CDC guidance on how to select, wear, and clean masks as of August 27, 2020, click here.
- For Maryland's August 6, 2020 amended directive and order regarding various healthcare matters including COVID-19 testing and reporting, healthcare provider matters, healthcare facility matters, and more, click here.
- For updated CDC infection control recommendations as of July 9, 2020, please click here.
- Practices should develop a Practice Management Plan that includes patient flow, triage, treatment and design plan.
- Before a patient arrives, implement triage parameters before the patient enters the practice. This could include pre-visit telephone triage, parking lot triage, and front door triage.
- Limit the contact you have with patients. Consider recommending telemedicine services for those patients who are at higher risk, or those that are immunocompromised. Some practices may decide to close the practice to patients while the pandemic continues. Please consult the section on telemedicine above for additional information.
- Update listings information so patients can find and reach you – particularly if your practice is closed or has a reduced schedule.
- Don’t forget social distancing – even in the office – to protect patients and staff.
- Discontinue the use of toys, magazines, and other shared items in waiting areas, as well as office items that could be shared among patients, such as pens, clipboards, phones, etc.
- Infection Control is vitally important during this time. Remind staff of proper infection control procedures, including handwashing and appropriate use of personal protective equipment, including masks, gowns and gloves. Equipment should be cleaned with appropriate cleaning solutions for each patient. No-touch methods should be used to dispose of waste materials. The CDC has provided recommendations for environmental cleaning and disinfection, along with the FDA which has a list of approved products. If you utilize an outside cleaning company; be sure they are aware of what’s recommended.
- Testing Priorities for COVID-19 is also important. Primarily, COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The CDC has listed priorities for testing patients with suspected COVID-19 infection.
- Priority 1: Ensures optimal care options for all hospitalized patients, lessens the risk of healthcare-associated infections, and maintain the integrity of the U.S. healthcare system.
- Priority 2: Ensures those at highest risk of complication of infection are rapidly identified and appropriately triaged.
- Priority 3: As resources allow, test individuals in the surrounding community of rapidly increasing hospital cases to decrease community spread, and ensure health essential workers
- Non-Priority: Individuals without symptoms.
- For a helpful quick guide from the CDC for the information contained above, please find that information here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/priority-testing-patients.pdf
- Become knowledgeable about available testing areas in your community as that information becomes available.
- For phone calls with possible COVID-19 patients, please review this guide from the CDC, including an initial phone script, accompanying decision algorithm and tailored care advice messages.
- The State of Maryland has issued that all elective surgeries be postponed making room for patients being treated for COVID-19 and emergent situations. Please find this infographic from the Maryland Department of Health to assist you in making the decision to postpone a procedure.
- CMS also has helpful information on Adult Elective Surgery and Procedures Recommendations.
- For a summary on guidance from the CDC on how to triage patients who may be infected with COVID-19 and how to protect patients from exposure, please click here.
- Ensuring the Rights of Persons with Limited English Proficiency in Health Care During COVID-19: Bulletin from the Department of Health and Human Services
- For sample COVID-specific related consent language, please see wording below.
COVID-19 is an infectious virus that currently has no direct treatment and for which there is no current vaccine. While we have taken reasonable steps to limit the potential for transmission of COVID-19 in our office, you agree that you understand transmission of COVID-19 is still possible.
You understand our office offers a HIPAA compliant telemedicine option. However, your care and/or your preference requires an in-person visit with our staff and health care providers. Where required to provide you care, our staff and health care providers may be within 6 feet of you and may touch you and your personal objects. You understand that person-to-person contact may increase the chance of COVID-19 transmission. It may be necessary that you quarantine and/or take other steps in the event it is determined that you may have been exposed to COVID-19.
You further understand that recommendations and guidelines regarding COVID-19 are subject to modification.