How should your radiology department prepare to contain the spread of the Coronavirus and protect your staff and patients? Recently a panel of experts from six institutions released a list of best practices for radiology preparedness during this health crisis. It was published in the March issue of the Radiology journal.
Those contributing to the guidelines included Dr. Mahmud Mossa-Basha of the University of Washington in Seattle; Dr. Carolyn Meltzer of Emory School of Medicine in Atlanta; Dr. Danny Kim of NYU Langone Health in New York City; Dr. Michael Tuite of the University of Wisconsin in Madison; Dr. Kanti Pallav Kolli of the University of California, San Francisco and Dr. Bien Soo Tan of Singapore General Hospital.
The best practices are as follows:
- Limit exposure to the virus by using screeners at all hospital entrances and your radiology reception desk to screen for symptoms that could be related to the virus. You should also put protocols into place for patients with known or suspected coronavirus to direct them to the virtual urgent care, emergency department or radiology.
- Determine the best use of your imaging services. For example, diagnostic laboratory tests have a sensitivity of 95-97% with quick turnaround time. They should be used first. Reserve your imaging for suspected coronavirus cases for which it will affect patient management or an alternative diagnosis must be ruled out.
- Protect your staff by masking patients during imaging and procedures. Use the appropriate precautions for patients who are undergoing aerosol-generating procedures. Cancel all travel for all employees for one month. Make sure you have a supply of N-95 masks and other personal protective equipment. Be sure to provide infection control tutorials, especially to ultrasound, CT and interventional technologists.
- Establish a crisis management team to oversee the department’s preparedness for the coronavirus
- Develop the plan for separate urgent care sites for treating patients with coronavirus
- Establish social distancing measures. Allow team members to work from home. Create isolated reading rooms in your facility. Use videoconferencing for meetings. Eliminate staff rotation between facilities.
- If staff travels to level 3 countries or have been exposed to patients with suspected coronavirus, they should be quarantined
- Establish a backup call schedule to cover for staff who are ill
- Create a plan to handle increased patient volume and imaging needs
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Meet the author: Vikki Harmonay