We are in the midst of a pandemic that is not only changing the way we live, work, and play, but how healthcare practitioners provide care to their patients. Stepping-up our efforts to disinfect and protect ourselves are mandatory measures we must take, and as many of our patients are ordered to shelter at home, we may still be called to serve them. What are healthcare practitioners doing to bridge the gap between patient care and staying safe amid the outbreak?
The number one thing that healthcare practitioners can do is step-up the disinfection and cleaning of their offices. This includes cleaning frequently touched items like doorknobs, drawer handles, waiting room chairs and tables, and the front counter where patients check-in. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends using a bleach or alcohol solution to disinfect, and launder items such as patient gowns and drapes in the warmest water possible. Make sure to also clean hampers and baskets that carry soiled linens.
Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)
PPE is in high demand right now. Masks, gloves, face shields, and gowns can provide a level of protection for yourself and your patients. Patients who are sick should be required to wear such PPE for your protection and for that of your other patients. Many practitioners are also requiring patients to not be sick during their visit, as well as choosing to push out routine appointments to a later date.
Hearing your patients is often more important than touching, them. With telemedicine, you can do many things you normally do with patients, without having either of you in the same treatment room. This can include going over lab results, looking at something like a rash, discussing mood or food issues, or talking about general symptoms. Telemedicine is ideal for a widespread outbreak, and helps practitioners increase access to care while preventing infection, as well as enabling patients to receive care at home without the risk of being exposed to illness. There are telemedicine options that enable you to link with patients for virtual visits that are HIPAA compliant, including those that are free for practitioners to use. This option may be the best way to provide the greatest protection of all for you and your patients.