CDC releases framework for treating COVID-19 long-haulers

Primary care providers can manage the treatment of most post-COVID-19 conditions, according to the CDC's interim guidance on treating long-haulers published June 14. 

The CDC's guidance defined "post-COVID conditions" as an "umbrella term for the wide range of physical and mental health consequences experienced by some patients that are present four or more weeks after SARS-CoV-2 infection, including by patients who had initial mild or asymptomatic acute infection." 

General clinical considerations, diagnosis considerations, public health recommendations and general management approaches are included in the new guidance. 

The guidance emphasizes the value of patient-centered approaches to identify "achievable health goals" as a way to optimize patients' quality of life and function, and encourages shared decision-making between providers and patients. 

In addition to primary care, some patients may require a "core group of specialty providers and support services" or referral to a multidisciplinary post-COVID care center where available, the guidance said. 

It also points out no lab test can definitively diagnose post-COVID conditions, indicating healthcare providers should not rely solely on diagnostic testing when considering treatment approaches. 

"It is important for healthcare professionals to listen to and validate patients' experiences, recognizing that diagnostic testing results may be within normal ranges even for patients whose symptoms and conditions negatively impact their quality of life, functioning, and ability to return to school or work," the CDC said. 

The guidance was developed in collaboration with the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Family Medicine, the American Academy of Pediatrics, among other healthcare expert groups. It also considered input from long-hauler support groups such as Survivor Corps, according to U.S. News and World Report. 

To ensure the guidance is adequately executed, "the U.S. must build an infrastructure to provide clinicians with the resources required to treat patients with long COVID-19 and ensure equitable access to care," Steven Flanagan, MD, vice president of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, said in a statement. "Patients with long COVID-19 need to be able to see local providers who are equipped and qualified to care for them as soon as possible." 

To view the full guidance, click here


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