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The Risks the Coronavirus Poses to Physicians

COVID – 19 Worldwide Pandemic Physician Impact

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our health care providers could be catastrophic.  American emergency medical centers could soon become overwhelmed with large waves of patients with COVID-19 symptoms and concerns.  The risk of infection sustained by our treating physicians comes with the job description and thankfully according to The Lancet, the risk of dying from COVID-19 is low to those who are young and healthy.  However, the CDC is still in full containment mode and healthcare providers who become infected or exposed without protective gear won’t be able to work while they remain contagious, making the impact that much more serious since we rely on our providers to care for the public. 

The Coronavirus impact on our medical providers could impact patients who need regular urgent medical attention for issues like strokes, heart attacks, and other medical conditions that aren’t going to go away just because COVID-19 has arrived. 

In order to protect patients, we must do everything to ensure that our healthcare providers remain protected.  Primary care providers and pediatricians should immediately start to reach out to their patients with a list of COVID-19 symptoms and tips on how to keep their families and workplaces safe.  Although the symptoms provided by the CDC seem overly broad and all too similar to symptoms of a common cold, patients will benefit greatly from a plan that guides them on when to call in, when to come in, and when to seek in-person medical care.  Physicians should encourage their patients to refer to that plan and to call first in order to help contain this virus.

Patients might be surprised to learn that most health insurance plans now offer a Telemedicine option.  Physicians should encourage their patients to review their health care plans to ensure they are taking advantage of any and all telemedicine options provided to them through their plan.   Telemedicine could play a major role in reducing the spread of this outbreak.  Telemedicine makes it possible to treat patients at a safe distance without the risk of spreading the infection to doctors and other patients seated around those in crowded waiting rooms.  

While non-perishable food, water, hand sanitizers, disinfectant soaps, cleaners, and N-95 filter masks are quickly in short supply it’s important that physicians encourage their patients to purchase just the items they need for their family.  Households should plan on supplies to last them for a 2 week period in case infection spreads within their house and they are quarantined.  Ideally, patients who have been exposed or who are experiencing symptoms should follow the plan set forth by their physician.  Patients should make every effort to remain quarantined in their homes and physicians should make telecommunication services available in an effort to reserve ICU and Hospital beds for those with serious respiratory symptoms and to lessen the exposure to our health care providers who will be working tirelessly to treat this virus.   

The best way to battle COVID-19, protect patients and healthcare providers, and contain it’s spread is to keep an open line of communication between elected officials, medical providers, and patients to eliminate the confusion associated with the when, how, and where to seek care. 

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