This review article provides ED clinicians with recommendations for the evaluation and management of patients presenting with suspected COVID-19.
Care for potentially infected patients in the emergency department during the COVID-19 pandemic requires significant consideration, as the virus is primarily transmitted person-to-person through close contact by respiratory droplets. The symptoms are similar to other viral upper respiratory illnesses. Three major trajectories include:
- Mild disease with upper respiratory symptoms
- Non-severe pneumonia, and
- Severe pneumonia complicated by acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
Emergency physicians should focus on:
- Identifying patients at risk
- Isolating suspected patients, and
- Informing hospital infection prevention and public health authorities.
Other recommendations include:
- Patients with suspected COVID-19 should be asked to wear a facemask.
- Respiratory etiquette, hand washing, and personal protective equipment are recommended for all healthcare personnel caring for suspected cases.
- Disposition depends on patient symptoms, hemodynamic status, and patient ability to self-quarantine.