COVID-19 has changed the world as we know it and we’ve been told to stay-at-home for the past few months. In light of the current coronavirus pandemic, many doctors had stopped their regular medical practice hours in order to prevent the transmission of the virus.

At this time, there is no vaccine so we will need to learn to live with the virus. Therefore, you will need to adapt and modify the way you disinfect your medical practice.

 

Here are some enhanced hygiene protocols and controls to consider prior to reopening your medical practice:

Daily disinfection of premises:
Many disinfectants have been approved by the EPA for use in terms of coronavirus protection. Make sure you disinfect your premises regularly because the virus can live on surfaces for days. You will need to disinfect everything, e.g. desk, computer and phone. We also recommend deep cleaning your office every night.

 

Basic Controls:

  • Throw away magazines in the waiting area!
  • Make sure everyone has access to hand sanitizer.
  • Mitigate the amount of paper being transferred.
  • Keep patients in their car and text them to come in for their appointment.
  • Ask patients to wear gloves and a mask when they walk in.
  • Offer curbside pickup if possible.
  • Most importantly, doctors and staff must wash their hands 100% of the time.

 

Pre-screening Controls for your staff:

On a daily basis, your staff should check for unusual symptoms:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Fever over 100.4 degrees
  • Aches and Pains
  • Loss of smell and taste

 

Front Desk Patient Pre-screening Questionnaire:

  1. Have you been diagnosed or been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 within 14 days?
  2. Have you experienced any cold or flu-like symptoms (including fever, cough, sore throat, respiratory illness, difficulty breathing, loss of taste or smell) within the last 14 days?

*Ask all your patients to complete a COVID-19 screening form.

 

Spatial planning:
From what we know, COVID-19 is .125 microns in diameter and it’s carried by water droplets. It can remain airborne for approximately 3 hours and it can travel 13 feet in the air. It also remains active on surfaces for days.

With that being the case, we recommend practicing social distancing protocols. We recommend:

  1. Removing every other chair in your waiting room.
  2. Mitigate airborne pathogens by installing plexiglass at the front desk.

 

Engineering Controls:
If it’s possible, you might need to retrofit your operatory with a HEPA Filter Air Purification System. Some clinics have built their own Negative Pressure Room. In a Negative Pressure Room, air enters the room (one way) through a HEPA air filter. The air then remains in the room.

 

Room Turnover Controls:

Essential Staff:
Allow only essential staff in your operatory at a single time so that social distancing becomes easier to manage.

Sterilization and instrument management:
Keep unused medical devices away from the used instruments. The goal is to minimize cross contamination.

 

Enhanced disinfection enables difficult-to-reach places to be thoroughly disinfected. This includes:

UV disinfection technology:
Adding UV-C into cleaning routines can help to effectively kill bacteria and pathogens.

Disinfectant & Deodorizing Germ Fogger:
The formula is a potent antibacterial and disinfecting solution designed to kill germs and bacteria on contact.

 

Usage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):
Although using PPE should be a routine part of any medical practice, its use has become even more important during the ongoing pandemic. Doctors, nurses, and other medical staff working at your medical practice should be given PPE to protect themselves and their patients from contracting the virus. These include an N95 mask, goggles, face shield, gloves and booties. Make sure you use high-quality brand name N95 masks. There have been cases of fraudulent N95 masks being sold.

 

To mitigate the risk of infection at your home. We also recommend leaving your used scrubs at the office and hiring a laundry service to pick up and deliver clean scrubs on an ongoing basis.

 

In conclusion, your patients are hyper-concerned with their health and safety. This will be a paradigm shift for everyone. It’s very important to show empathy. Be proactive and precautious. Show that you care and are cognizant of their health and well-being. By practicing these enhanced hygiene protocols, your office will mitigate the risk of transmitting COVID-19.

 

Source:
List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2
https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2

OSHA 3990-03 2020
Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19
https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf

*This blog is for information purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. For more information, please refer to your State, OSHA and CDC guidelines.