8 tips for protecting healthcare providers of coronavirus patients

The new strain of coronavirus has sickened 45,206 and resulted in 1,117 deaths worldwide, and healthcare workers caring for these patients face a high risk of contracting the infection themselves.

In the U.S., 13 people are sickened with the virus, and the CDC has updated its infection prevention and control guidance specific to COVID-19, the official name of the illness caused by the new coronavirus strain.

The American Medical Association is encouraging U.S. healthcare professionals to keep abreast of the situation and has offered COVID-19 resources. It also offered the following tips for protecting healthcare workers caring for COVID-19 patients:

1. Make sure practices that help minimize exposure to respiratory pathogens are in place before and on patient arrival as well as through the hospital stay.

2. Follow standard contact precautions as recommended by the CDC, including when wearing or taking off personal protection equipment.

3. Monitor, and when needed, restrict visitor access and movement in patient rooms.

4. Consider building physical barriers to help prevent contact with infected patients as they move through triage or other high-activity areas.

5. Ensure sick-leave policies are flexible and consistent with guidance from public health authorities during the COVID-19 outbreak.

6. Offer job-specific infection control education and training before providers begin caring for COVID-19 patients.

7. Implement and ensure compliance to environmental infection control practices, including proper disinfecting of nondisposable medical equipment.

8. Create and implement policies to ensure team members receive prompt alerts about a known or suspected COVID-19 patient, and select a person from within the organization who will communicate with public health authorities.

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