Italian physicians urge other nations to treat more patients at home

A dozen physicians on the front line of Italy's COVID-19 outbreak are urging other countries to conduct more home-based care to help prevent the virus' spread, according to a paper published in NEJM Catalyst and cited by STAT.

The physicians described grim conditions in Italian hospitals where physicians must prioritize intensive care to patients with the best chance of survival. 

"Older patients are not being resuscitated and die alone without appropriate palliative care, while the family is notified over the phone, often by a well-intentioned, exhausted and emotionally depleted physician with no prior contact," the physicians wrote in the paper.

To help prevent a similar situation in the U.S., the physicians said care must be shifted away from hospitals, which are increasingly becoming the main transmission source for new COVID-19 cases. Home-based care supported by in-person visits, mobile clinics and telehealth may be a more effective way to curb transmission, the authors suggested. 

"Bring them nutrition, measure their oxygen levels, even bring them oxygen, and you can probably keep many of them at home," Maurizio Cereda, MD, a co-author of the paper and co-director of the surgical ICU at Philadelphia-based Penn Medicine, told STAT. "That change would decrease transmission and protect other patients as well as health care workers."

They also recommended creating designated hospitals for COVID-19 patients who require intensive care to help further prevent the spread.

To view the full paper, click here.

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