How to keep patients and staff safe during ECHO procedures
As well, to reduce time spent at a patient’s bedside, and the subsequent risk of infection, measurements should be taken offline when reporting the study.
The risks of spreading the SARS-CoV-2 virus should always be considered, and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) should be worn.
To stratify infection risk, patients can be categorized into one of three groups:
- Category 1—confirmed
- Category 2—suspected
- Category 3—low-risk or confirmed negative
Figure 1. Traffic light system for categorization of a patient’s COVID-19 infection risk includes category 1 (confirmed), category 2 (suspected), and category 3 (low-risk or confirmed negative).
For the in-patient setting, the risk of viral exposure is determined by the patient category. Full PPE is worn when scanning category 1 and 2 patients; basic PPE is worn when scanning category 3 patients.
Additional measures such as providing a face mask to the patient and requesting the patient to turn their face away from the operator can be used to further reduce the infection risk.
Typically, the SARS-CoV-2 status of a newly admitted patient is unknown. Therefore, the risk of infection can be assessed on arrival with a screening questionnaire, presenting history, blood profile, and chest x-ray (if available at the time of scanning). In the absence of symptoms, these investigations may actually raise the suspicion of a SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Figure 2. Newly admitted patients can be assessed upon arrival for a SARS-CoV-2 infection with a screening questionnaire, presenting history, blood profile, and chest x-ray (if available at the time of scanning).
Patient and staff safety is paramount, and a robust system should be used to prevent the spread of infection when delivering point-of-care ultrasound during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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