Physicians have put forward an approach to create dedicated COVID-19 patient units, infection control protocols, and care teams to help control the spread of COVID-19 and ensure proper care of patients.
Controlling the spread of COVID-19 within hospitals is vital if normal health services are to continue. Physicians from Spain and Toronto have developed an approach to better COVID-19 infection control and patient care based on real-world experience that can be implemented by hospitals across the world.
The approach has been published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
Strict infection control procedures
Strict infection control procedures must be developed by hospitals along with plans on how to care for patients in order to ensure staff and patient safety.
Dr David Frost, a general internist at University Health Network and the University of Toronto, Ontario, with co-authors, said: “The care of patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19 cannot be construed as falling within usual hospital operating procedures.
“Meticulous planning is required. There are unique challenges regarding necessarily strict infection control procedures, provision of care to potentially large numbers of patients and clinical considerations specific to COVID-19.”
The report notes how implementing large-scale change in clinical practice will require a change in workplace culture and encourages ‘fostering a culture of safety’, highlighting that successful measures of infection control will require the engagement of all stakeholders involved in patient care, such as nurses, porters, and many others.
It states: ‘Based on the existing literature and rapid integration of lessons learned internationally, often via social media, hospitals and care teams can prepare to provide safe and effective patient-centred care in the face of the formidable challenge posed by COVID-19.’
The report also recommends dividing hospitals up into ‘risk zones’ and creating dedicated care units for patients suffering from COVID-19.
Another suggestion put forward is a buddy system for clinicians whereby tasks are separated to help minimise the spread of the infection. For example, one clinician would perform examinations of patients in one zone, and another clinician may stay in a different zone as a ‘PPE spotter’ and perform administration tasks.
The authors wrote: ‘In this system, clinicians entering patient rooms are less likely to contaminate the environment. The structure also encourages clinical discussion and collaborative decision-making. In our experience, alternating roles between clinician one and two every three to four days minimises fatigue and balances risk exposure.’
They added: ‘The ability to rapidly disseminate information, iterate protocols and collaborate with physicians around the world will continue to be important through subsequent waves of the pandemic.’
An open access website to provide quick access to the approach for health professionals has also been created and can be found at www.torontocovidcollective.com.