As hospitals across the country take on the SARS-CoV-2 virus and prepare to treat patients with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) here are some precautions and safety measures your anesthesia team can take.
Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
The American Society of Anesthesiology (ASA) recommends an N95 mask, for which one has been fit-tested, or a powered air-purifying respirator, a face shield or goggles, gowns and gloves when caring for a patient with a known or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19. They also suggest doubling on gloves during laryngoscopy and intubation so the provider will be able to shed the outer gloves after intubation.
Allocate ORs for COVID-19
Anesthesia can work with their hospital’s OR department to make sure there is an OR prepared if there is a confirmed or suspected case. Have a plan to care for these patients safely with the least amount of staff possible to minimize exposure. All team members should also know that these patients do not need to be in common holding areas or the PACU.
Select the most experienced and qualified clinician to intubate patients. Acuity-based staffing, which deploys providers to where their skills and abilities are most useful, is something Premier Anesthesia will rely on when scheduling providers and cases in the coming weeks. It also allows for flexibility, which is also needed under the current conditions.
Communicate hospital, health department and CDC updates to team members
Either your anesthesia medical director or someone they designate should keep team members informed of updates at all levels and if any protocols have changed or need to change.